Futility Closet

By Greg Ross

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Category: History

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Subscribers: 861
Reviews: 10


 Mar 9, 2020

Anne
 Feb 4, 2020
I love the history lessons, but the lateral thinking puzzles leave me cold.

Navdeep Badhni
 Sep 16, 2019
Listener and supporter for many years and will happily continue for years to come.

mattiaq
 Aug 10, 2019


 Mar 8, 2019

Description

Forgotten stories from the pages of history. Join us for surprising and curious tales from the past and challenge yourself with our lateral thinking puzzles.

Episode Date
306-The Inventor Who Disappeared
31:56

In 1890, French inventor Louis Le Prince vanished just as he was preparing to debut his early motion pictures. He was never seen again. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll consider the possible causes of Le Prince's disappearance and his place in the history of cinema.

We'll also reflect on a murderous lawyer and puzzle over the vagaries of snake milking.

Intro:

In 1826, schoolteacher George Pocock proposed a carriage drawn by kites.

George Sicherman discovered an alternate pair of six-sided dice that produce the same probability distribution as ordinary dice.

Sources for our feature on Louis Le Prince:

Christopher Rawlence, The Missing Reel: The Untold Story of the Lost Inventor of Moving Pictures, 1990.

Thomas Deane Tucker, The Peripatetic Frame, 2020.

Adam Hart-Davis, ed., Engineers: From the Great Pyramids to the Pioneers of Space Travel, 2012.

Jenni Davis, Lost Bodies, 2017.

Charles Musser, "When Did Cinema Become Cinema?: Technology, History, and the Moving Pictures," in Santiago Hidalgo, ed., Technology and Film Scholarship: Experience, Study, Theory, 2018.

Richard Howells, "Louis Le Prince: The Body of Evidence," Screen 47:2 (Summer 2006), 179–200.

John Gianvito, "Remembrance of Films Lost," Film Quarterly 53:2 (1999), 39-42.

Irfan Shah, "Man With a Movie Camera," History Today 69:1 (January 2019) 18-20.

Violeta María Martínez Alcañiz, "The Birth of Motion Pictures: Piracy, Patent Disputes and Other Anecdotes in the Race for Inventing Cinema," III Congreso Internacional Historia, Arte y Literatura en el Cine en Español y Portugués, 2015.

Atreyee Gupta, "The Disappearance of Louis Le Prince," Materials Today 11:7-8 (July-August 2008), 56.

Justin McKinney, "From Ephemera to Art: The Birth of Film Preservation and the Museum of Modern Art Film Library," Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America 33:2 (September 2014), 295-312.

Denis Pellerin, "The Quest for Stereoscopic Movement: Was the First Film Ever in 3-D?", International Journal on Stereo & Immersive Media 1:1 (2017).

Ian Youngs, "Louis Le Prince, Who Shot the World's First Film in Leeds," BBC News, June 23, 2015.

Kevin Brownlow, "The Inventor Vanishes," New York Times, Nov. 18, 1990.

"How Is the Technology That Was Used to Reconstruct the Oldest Film in History?", CE Noticias Financieras, English ed., May 13, 2020.

Chris Bond, "Leeds Celebrates Its Film Pioneer," Yorkshire Post, Oct. 24, 2017.

Adrian Lee, "Whatever Happened to the True Father of Film?", [London] Daily Express, June 29, 2015.

"Louis Le Prince: Time to Honour Cinema's Forgotten Pioneer," Yorkshire Post, Sept. 16, 2013.

Troy Lennon, "Movie Pioneer Caught in a Disappearing Act," [Surry Hills, N.S.W.] Daily Telegraph, Oct. 14, 2008, 38.

Kieron Casey, "The Mystery of Louis Le Prince, the Father of Cinematography," Science+Media Museum, Aug. 29, 2013.

Listener mail:

Agnes Rogers, How Come? A Book of Riddles, 1953.

Wikipedia, "Lateral Thinking" (accessed July 25, 2020).

Edward de Bono's website.

Wikipedia, "Situation Puzzle" (accessed July 25, 2020).

Paul Sloane, Lateral Thinking Puzzlers, 1991.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Eric Ridenour.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Aug 03, 2020
305-Cast Away in the New World
30:56

Marooned in Florida in 1528, four Spanish colonists made an extraordinary journey across the unexplored continent. Their experiences changed their conception of the New World and its people. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the remarkable odyssey of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and his reformed perspective on the Spanish conquest.

We'll also copy the Mona Lisa and puzzle over a deficient pinball machine.

Intro:

The Russian navy built two circular warships in 1871.

When shaken, a certain chemical solution will change from yellow to red to green.

Sources for our feature on Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca:

Andrés Reséndez, A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca, 2009.

Robin Varnum, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca: American Trailblazer, 2014.

Donald E. Chipman, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca: The 'Great Pedestrian' of North and South America, 2014.

Alex D. Krieger, We Came Naked and Barefoot: The Journey of Cabeza de Vaca Across North America, 2010.

Peter Stern, "Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca: Conquistador and Sojourner," in Ian Kenneth Steele and Nancy Lee Rhoden, eds., The Human Tradition in Colonial America, 1999.

Rolena Adorno, "The Negotiation of Fear in Cabeza de Vaca's Naufragios," in Stephen Greenblatt, ed., New World Encounters, 1993.

Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, The Journey of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca and His Companions From Florida to the Pacific, 1528-1536, 1542.

Andrés Reséndez, "A Desperate Trek Across America," American Heritage 58:5 (Fall 2008), 19-21.

Nancy P. Hickerson, "How Cabeza De Vaca Lived With, Worked Among, and Finally Left the Indians of Texas," Journal of Anthropological Research 54:2 (Summer 1998), 199-218.

Donald E. Chipman, "In Search of Cabeza de Vaca's Route Across Texas: An Historiographical Survey," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 91:2 (October 1987), 127-148.

Paul E. Hoffman, "A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca, the Extraordinary Tale of a Shipwrecked Spaniard Who Walked Across America in the Sixteenth Century," Journal of American History 95:2 (September 2008), 496-497.

R.T.C. Goodwin, "Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and the Textual Travels of an American Miracle," Journal of Iberian & Latin American Studies 14:1 (April 2008), 1-12.

John L. Kessell, "A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca," American Historical Review 113:5 (December 2008), 1519-1520.

Robert Wilson, "A Long Walk in the New World," American Scholar 77:1 (Winter 2008), 137-139.

Nan Goodman, "Mercantilism and Cultural Difference in Cabeza de Vaca's Relación," Early American Literature 40:2 (2005), 229-250, 405.

Ali Shehzad Zaidi, "The Spiritual Evolution of Cabeza de Vaca in Shipwrecks," Theory in Action 7:3 (July 2014), 109-117.

Kun Jong Lee, "Pauline Typology in Cabeza De Vaca's Naufragios," Early American Literature 34:3 (1999), 241-262.

"How Cabeza de Vaca, Explorer, Came by His Strange Name," New York Times, March 9, 1930.

Donald E. Chipman, "Cabeza de Vaca, Álvar Núñez," Texas State Historical Association (accessed July 12, 2020).

"The Journey of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca," American Journeys Collection, Wisconsin Historical Society Digital Library and Archives, 2003.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "City of Death" (accessed July 17, 2020).

Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Cloud Seeding" (accessed July 17, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Cloud Seeding" (accessed July 17, 2020).

Andrew Moseman, "Does Cloud Seeding Work?", Scientific American, Feb. 19, 2009.

Janet Pelley, "Does Cloud Seeding Really Work?", Chemical & Engineering News 94:22 (May 30, 2016), 18-21.

Lulin Xue, Sarah A. Tessendorf, Eric Nelson, Roy Rasmussen, Daniel Breed, et al., "Implementation of a Silver Iodide Cloud-Seeding Parameterization in WRF. Part II: 3D Simulations of Actual Seeding Events and Sensitivity Tests," Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 52:6 (June 2013), 1458-1476.

Rachel Hager, "Idaho Power Can Make It Snow — Increasing Water Reserves, Powering Homes. But Is It Safe?", Idaho Statesman, July 25, 2019.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Eric Waldow.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jul 27, 2020
304-The Dog Who Joined the Navy
31:08

The only dog ever enlisted in the Royal Navy was a Great Dane who befriended the sailors of Cape Town in the 1930s. Given the rank of able seaman, he boosted the morale of British sailors around the world. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of Just Nuisance and his adventures among the sailors who loved him.

We'll also examine early concentration camps and puzzle over a weighty fashion.

Intro:

For most of World War I a statue of Mary hung over Albert, France.

J.B.S. Haldane learned to detect methane by reciting Julius Caesar.

Sources for our feature on Just Nuisance:

Terence Sisson, Just Nuisance, AB: His Full Story, 1985.

Leslie M. Steyn, Just Nuisance: Life Story of an Able Seaman Who Leads a Dog's Life, 1945.

Malcolm Archibald, Sixpence for the Wind: A Knot of Nautical Folklore, 1998.

Douglas Reed, Somewhere South of Suez, 1950.

Lance Van Sittert and Sandra Scott Swart, Canis Africanis: A Dog History of Southern Africa, 2008.

W.M. Bisset, "New Light on South Africa's Naval Heritage," Scientia Militaria: South African Journal of Military Studies 7:4 (1977), 38-44.

H.H. Curson, "Service Pets," Journal of the South African Veterinary Association 27:1 (1956), 31-50.

Lance Van Sittert and Sandra Swart, "Canis familiaris: A Dog History of South Africa," South African Historical Journal 48:1 (2003), 138-173.

Leslie Witz, "The Making of an Animal Biography: Huberta's Journey Into South African Natural History, 1928-1932," Kronos (2004), 138-166.

"Navy Dog Just Nuisance to Get New Cap, Collar," Cape Times, Sept. 19, 2019, 2.

"Have Fun With the Kids on Just Nuisance Day," Cape Times, March 8, 2018, 6.

Ellen Castelow, "Able Seaman Just Nuisance," Historic UK (accessed July 5, 2020).

Jon Earle, "'A Dog, But a Sailor at Heart': The Story of Just Nuisance, the Only Dog Ever Enlisted in the Royal Navy," Royal Museums Greenwich, Nov. 4, 2019.

Listener mail:

Andrea Pitzer, "Concentration Camps Existed Long Before Auschwitz," Smithsonian, Nov. 2, 2017.

"Timeline: February, 1896: Reconcentration Policy," Crucible of Empire: The Spanish-American War, PBS, 1999.

Paul Harris, "'Spin' on Boer Atrocities," Guardian, Dec. 8, 2001.

"Women and Children in White Concentration Camps During the Anglo-Boer War, 1900-1902," South African History Online (accessed July 6, 2020).

"Black Concentration Camps During the Anglo-Boer War 2, 1900-1902," South African History Online (accessed July 6, 2020).

"Jacob Rees-Mogg Comments on Concentration Camps," BBC News, Feb. 14, 2019.

Fransjohan Pretorius, "Concentration Camps in the South African War? Here Are the Real Facts," The Conversation, Feb. 18, 2019.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Cate Burlington, who sent this corroborating slink (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jul 20, 2020
303-Camp Stark
31:28

In 1943, the U.S. established a camp for German prisoners of war near the village of Stark in northern New Hampshire. After a rocky start, the relations between the prisoners and guards underwent a surprising change. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of Camp Stark and the transforming power of human decency.

We'll also check out some Canadian snakes and puzzle over some curious signs.

Intro:

Why does Dracula go to England?

The rattleback is a top that seems to prefer spinning in a certain direction.

Sources for our feature on Camp Stark:

Allen V. Koop, Stark Decency: German Prisoners of War in a New England Village, 2000.

Antonio Thompson, Men in German Uniform: POWs in America During World War II, 2010.

Michael Greenberg, Tables Turned on Them: Jews Guarding Nazi POWS Held in the United States, 2019.

Felice Belman and Mike Pride, The New Hampshire Century: Concord Monitor Profiles of One Hundred People Who Shaped It, 2001.

Andrew Streeb, "Measuring Ideas: The Political Segregation of German Prisoners of War in America, 1943-1946," Historical Studies Journal 26 (Spring 2009), 15-29.

Jake W. Spidle Jr., "Axis Prisoners of War in the United States, 1942-1946: A Bibliographical Essay," Military Affairs 39:2 (April 1975), 61-66.

Earl O. Strimple, "A History of Prison Inmate-Animal Interaction Programs," American Behavioral Scientist 47:1 (2003), 70-78.

"Roadside History: Camp Stark, NH's WWII German POW Camp, Housed About 250 Soldiers," New Hampshire Union Leader, Sept. 25, 2016.

Robert Blechl, "A Stark Remembrance of German POWs Storming North Country Woods in WWII," Caledonian Record, May 16, 2015.

Kayti Burt, "Stark Remembers Former POW Camp," Salmon Press, March 31, 2010.

"Camp Stark Is Remembered," Berlin [N.H.] Daily Sun, March 29, 2010.

Royal Ford, "N.H. Woods Hold Echoes of War Village Recalls Life at Camp Stark, Where German WWII Prisoners Were Held," Boston Globe, May 12, 1995, 31.

Adolphe V. Bernotas, "POW Camp in New Hampshire Was Meeting Ground," Associated Press, May 25, 1994, 29E.

"Northeast POWs, Guards Reunite," Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Sept. 29, 1986, 3A.

John Ellement, "Ex-German POWs and Guards Hold Reunion at N.H. Camp Site," Boston Globe, Sept. 28, 1986, 85.

Michael Mokrzycki, "German WWII Prisoners, American Guards Reunite," Associated Press, Sept. 27, 1986.

"Escaped War Captive Lived on Art Here," New York Times, Oct. 15, 1944.

"Captured Nazi Escapes," New York Times, Aug. 27, 1944.

"Two War Prisoners Escape," New York Times, June 29, 1944.

Listener mail:

"If You're Scared of Snakes, Don't Watch This," National Geographic, June 26, 2014.

Calvin Dao, "Narcisse Snake Pits," Canadian Geographic, May 1, 2015.

"Narcisse Snake Dens," Atlas Obscura (accessed July 1, 2020).

"Snakes of Narcisse," Manitoba.ca (accessed July 1, 2020).

Ian Austen, "This Canadian Town Comes Alive Once a Year, as Thousands of Snakes Mate," New York Times, June 16, 2019.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener David Roth.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jul 13, 2020
302-The Galápagos Affair
31:08

In 1929 a German couple fled civilization to live on an uninhabited island in the Eastern Pacific. But other settlers soon followed, leading to strife, suspicion, and possibly murder. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Galápagos affair, a bizarre mystery that remains unsolved.

We'll also meet another deadly doctor and puzzle over a posthumous marriage.

Intro:

Damon Knight invented a way to compose stories without having to write them.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, why do we regard some tastes as bad?

Photo: Captain Allan G. Hancock, Dore Strauch, and Friedrich Ritter at Floreana. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7231, Waldo L. Schmitt Papers, Box 90, Folder 4, Image No. SIA2011-1149.

Sources for our feature on Floreana:

Dore Strauch, Satan Came to Eden: A Survivor's Account of the "Galápagos Affair," 1936.

Margret Wittmer, Floreana: A Woman's Pilgrimage to the Galápagos, 1989.

John E. Treherne, The Galápagos Affair, 2011.

Elizabeth Hennessy, On the Backs of Tortoises: Darwin, the Galapagos, and the Fate of an Evolutionary Eden, 2019.

Alexander Mann, Yachting on the Pacific: Together With Notes on Travel in Peru, and an Account of the Peoples and Products of Ecuador, 1909.

K. Thalia Grant and Gregory B. Estes, "Alf Wollebæk and the Galápagos Archipelago's First Biological Station," Galápagos Research 68 (2016), 33-42.

Hans-Rudolf Bork and Andreas Mieth, "Catastrophe on an Enchanted Island: Floreana, Galapagos, Ecuador," Rapa Nui Journal: Journal of the Easter Island Foundation 19:1 (2005), 5.

David Cameron Duffy, "Galapagos Literature -- Fact and Fantasy," Noticias de Galápagos 44 (1986), 18-20.

Gavin Haines, "Cannibalism, Nude Germans and a Murder Mystery: The Secret History of the Galapagos," Telegraph, Feb. 12, 2018.

Oliver Smith, "Cannibalism, Murder and Chronic Obesity: 10 Island Paradises With Dark and Deadly Secrets," Telegraph.co.uk, Aug. 9, 2017.

Allison Amend, "In the Footsteps of Charles Darwin," New York Times (Online), June 20, 2017.

Trevor Seymour, "Murder on Seduction Island," [Surry Hills, New South Wales] Daily Telegraph, June 25, 2002, 26.

Shiela Waddell, "At the Ends of the Earth," Glasgow Herald, Nov. 20, 1999, 12.

Mitchell Smyth, "Satan in Paradise -- Lust and Murder on a Desert Isle," Toronto Star, Oct. 22, 1994, L2.

Katherine Woods, "From Utopian Dream to Nightmare," New York Times, May 24, 1936.

"Woman Is Leaving Galapagos 'Eden,'" New York Times, Dec. 9, 1934.

"Desert Isles' 'Ruler' Escapes Eviction," New York Times, Jan. 23, 1934.

Stephanie Merry, "'The Galapagos Affair: When Satan Came to Eden' Movie Review," Washington Post, May 8, 2014.

Stephen Holden, "Seeking Eden, They Fled to Far Isle; Hell Followed," New York Times, April 3, 2014.

Andrea Crossan, "A New Film Unearths the True Story of a 1930s Murder Mystery in the Galapagos," The World, PRI, April 4, 2014.

Moira Macdonald, "'The Galapagos Affair': A Murder Mystery in Paradise," Seattle Times, April 17, 2014.

Alan Scherstuhl, "Murder in Paradise in The Galapagos Affair," Village Voice, April 2, 2014.

Ryan Gilbey, "Death in Paradise: Ryan Gilbey on The Galapagos Affair," New Statesman, July 28, 2014.

Listener mail:

"Cremation Medical Certificate," gov.uk, Jan. 2, 2009.

"Doctors’ Fees, Cremation Forms & Certificates," beyond.life (accessed June 22, 2020).

Trevor Jackson and Richard Smith, "Harold Shipman," BMJ 328:7433 (Jan. 24, 2004), 231.

"Harold Shipman (1946–2004)," Biography, April 27, 2017.

John Philip Jenkins, "Harold Shipman," Encyclopaedia Britannica (accessed June 22, 2020).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Alon Eitan.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jul 06, 2020
301-Tschiffely's Ride
31:57

In 1925, Swiss schoolteacher Aimé Tschiffely set out to prove the resilience of Argentina's criollo horses by riding two of them from Buenos Aires to New York City. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow Tschiffely's unprecedented journey, which has been called "the most exciting and influential equestrian travel tale of all time."

We'll also read an inscrutable cookbook and puzzle over a misbehaving coworker.

Intro:

English was Joseph Conrad's third language, but it held a peculiar mystique for him.

Thanks to a mathematical oddity, one measurement suffices to establish the area of a carousel deck.

Sources for our feature on Aimé Tschiffely:

A.F. Tschiffely, Tschiffely's Ride: Ten Thousand Miles in the Saddle From Southern Cross to Pole Star, 1933.

Lawrence Scanlan, Wild About Horses: Our Timeless Passion for the Horse, 2012.

Sam Leith, "The Incredible Journey," Spectator 324:9694 (June 14, 2014), 36-37.

"Long Ride," Time 21:16 (April 17, 1933), 51.

Bacil F. Kirtley, "Unknown Hominids and New World Legends," Western Folklore 23:2 (April 1964), 77-90.

Aimé Tschiffely - Long Rider.

"Tschiffely's 10,000-Mile, Three-Year Ride," Horse Canada, Jan. 2, 2014.

Filipe Masetti Leite, "Journey to the End of the World," Toronto Star (Online), Dec. 19, 2016.

Paul Theroux, "Run for Your Life," New York Times, March 5, 1989.

"A.F. Tschiffely, Made Noted Trip," New York Times, Jan. 6, 1954.

"Noted Horse Dies in Argentina at 37," [Washington D.C.] Evening Star, Dec. 26, 1947, A-11.

"Famous 'Trek' Horse Embalmed," New York Times, Dec. 25, 1947.

"A Homeric Exploit in the Saddle," New York Times, April 23, 1933.

"10,000-Mile, Ride Recounted in Book," New York Times, April 10, 1933.

"Argentinian Horseman Home Again," New York Times, Dec. 20, 1928.

"Nelson Extols Ponies," New York Times, Oct. 6, 1928.

"Argentine Rider Glad to Rest Here," [Washington D.C.] Evening Star, Aug. 30, 1928, 17.

"Yipee! (or Spanish Meaning That): Look, Girls! a Pampas Cowboy!", Indianapolis Times, July 10, 1928.

"6,000 Miles on Horseback," New York Times, May 12, 1927.

"Testing Endurance of Horse by Long Ride," New Britain [Conn.] Herald, Oct. 30, 1925, 15.

Tschiffely's ride on Google Maps.

Listener mail:

Samille Mitchell, "Sophie Matterson Ditched City Life and Embraced the Isolation of a 5,000km Solo Trek Across Australia," ABC News, May 16, 2020.

Sophie Matterson's website.

Sian Johnson, "Victorian Man 'Crayfish Dan' Spent 40 Years Living in a Coastal Cave Near Warrnambool," ABC News, May 9, 2020.

local student, "Evan got scammed on a cookbook he bought off amazon? It’s like it was written by a neural network," Twitter, May 23, 2020.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Dave Lawrence.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jun 29, 2020
300-Lateral Thinking Puzzles
28:57

Here are six new lateral thinking puzzles -- play along with us as we try to untangle some perplexing situations using yes-or-no questions.

Intro:

In the 1850s, a $5 bill featuring Santa Claus was legal tender in the United States.

In 1910 DuPont suggested that "some farmers have a wrong idea about dynamite."

The sources for this week's puzzles are below. In a few places we've included slinks to further information -- these contain spoilers, so don't click until you've listened to the episode:

Puzzle #1 is from listener Cody Scace.

Puzzle #2 is from listener Jay Graham.

Puzzle #3 is from Greg. Here are two slinks.

Puzzle #4 is from listener Paul Rippey.

Puzzle #5 is from listener Hanno Zulla, who sent these slinks.

Puzzle #6 is from Greg.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jun 22, 2020
299-Ursula Graham Bower and the Nagas
30:38

In 1937, Englishwoman Ursula Graham Bower became fascinated by the Naga people of northeastern India. She was living among them when World War II broke out and Japan threatened to invade their land. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Bower's efforts to organize the Nagas against an unprecedented foe.

We'll also consider a self-censoring font and puzzle over some perplexing spacecraft.

Intro:

In 1822 the Yorkshire Observer published the schedule of a bachelor's life.

In 1988 philosopher Edward J. Gracely offered a dilemma regarding a flight from hell.

Sources for our feature on Ursula Graham Bower:

Vicky Thomas, Naga Queen: Ursula Graham Bower and Her Jungle Warriors 1939-45, 2011.

Ursula Graham Bower, Naga Path, 1950.

Christopher Alan Bayly and Timothy Norman Harper, Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia, 1941-1945, 2005.

Nicholas van der Bijl, Sharing the Secret: The History of the Intelligence Corps 1940–2010, 2013.

Montgomery McFate, Military Anthropology: Soldiers, Scholars and Subjects at the Margins of Empire, 2018.

Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes and Heather Norris Nicholson, British Women Amateur Filmmakers, 2018.

Alex Lubin, Romance and Rights: The Politics of Interracial Intimacy, 1945-1954, 2009.

Margaret MacMillan, History's People: Personalities and the Past, 2015.

Andrew Jackson Waskey, "Bower, Ursula Graham," in Bernard A. Cook, ed., Women and War: A Historical Encyclopedia From Antiquity to the Present, 2006.

Paul Cheeseright, "Queen Without a Throne: Ursula Graham Bower and the Burma Campaign," Asian Affairs 45:2 (June 2014), 289-299.

Ajailiu Niumai, "Rani Gaidinliu: The Iconic Woman of Northeast India," Indian Journal of Gender Studies 25:3 (August 2018), 351-367.

Stuart Blackburn, "Colonial Contact in the 'Hidden Land': Oral History Among the Apatanis of Arunachal Pradesh," Indian Economic & Social History Review 40:3 (October 2003), 335-365.

Charles Allen, "Spirit of Roedean," Spectator, April 14, 2012.

dipanita nath, "Woman Who Came in From the Wild," Indian Express, Aug. 12, 2017.

Esha Roy, "My Mother, The Naga Warrior," Indian Express, Oct. 27, 2013.

Ved Mohendra, "A Bloody Battle to Remember," [Kuala Lumpur] New Straits Times, June 28, 2014, 16.

"Rays of a New Dawn in Nagaland," Assam Tribune, Nov. 26, 2012.

Mary Johnson Tweedy, "A Troubled, Far-Off Land," New York Times, Oct. 18, 1953.

"Blond Englishwoman, Naga Queen, Helped Fight Japs," Wilmington [N.C.] Morning Star, Dec. 8, 1944, 14.

Melissa van der Klugt, "Warrior Queen Ursula Graham Bower's Is Staged for Her Tribal Comrades," Sunday Times, Dec. 30, 2017.

Neha Kirpal, "Ursula the 'Jungle Queen': The Extraordinary Story of the Englishwoman Who Led Naga Soldiers in WWII," Scroll, Jan. 10, 2018.

"The Nagas: Hill Peoples of Northeast India," Cambridge Experimental Videodisc Project.

Martin Gienke, "Film Interviews With Leading Thinkers: Ursula Graham Bower," University of Cambridge, Nov. 4, 1985.

"Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood," Supplement to the London Gazette, April 20, 1945, 2166.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Sydney Harbour Bridge" (accessed June 4, 2020).

Sydney Harbour Bridge coat hanger.

"A Short History of the Sydney Harbour Bridge," New South Wales Government (accessed June 4, 2020).

Damien Murphy, "Sydney Harbour Bridge Celebrates 85th Anniversary," Sydney Morning Herald, March 16, 2017.

Scunthorpe Sans.

Alex Hern, "Anti-Porn Filters Stop Dominic Cummings Trending on Twitter," Guardian, May 27, 2020.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Jeremy Vander Munnik. Here's an (intermittently!) corroborating slink.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jun 15, 2020
298-The Theft of the Mona Lisa
30:04

In 1911, the Mona Lisa disappeared from the Louvre. After an extensive investigation it made a surprising reappearance that inspired headlines around the world. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the painting's abduction, which has been called the greatest art theft of the 20th century.

We'll also shake Seattle and puzzle over a fortunate lack of work.

Intro:

A hard-boiled egg will stand when spun.

What's the largest sofa one can squeeze around a corner?

Sources for our feature on Vincenzo Peruggia and the theft of the Mona Lisa:

Noah Charney, The Thefts of the Mona Lisa: On Stealing the World's Most Famous Painting, 2011.

Martin Kemp and Giuseppe Pallanti, Mona Lisa: The People and the Painting, 2017.

Andrea Wallace, A History of Intellectual Property in 50 Objects, 2019.

Monica R. DiFonzo, "'Think You Can Steal Our Caravaggio and Get Away With It? Think Again,' An Analysis of the Italian Cultural Property Model," George Washington International Law Review 44:3 (2012), 539-571.

Niels Christian Pausch and Christoph Kuhnt, "Analysis of Facial Characteristics of Female Beauty and Age of Mona Lisa Using a Pictorial Composition," Journal of Advances in Medicine and Medical Research (2017), 1-7.

Donald Capps, "Leonardo's Mona Lisa: Iconic Center of Male Melancholic Religion," Pastoral Psychology 53:2 (2004), 107-137.

Joseph A. Harris, "Seeking Mona Lisa," Smithsonian 30:2 (May 1999), 54-65.

Simon Kuper, "Who Stole the Mona Lisa?", Slate, Aug. 7, 2011.

Terence McArdle, "How the 1911 Theft of the Mona Lisa Made It the World's Most Famous Painting," Washington Post (online), Oct. 20, 2019.

Jeff Nilsson, "100 Years Ago: The Mastermind Behind the Mona Lisa Heist," Saturday Evening Post, Dec. 7, 2013.

Sheena McKenzie, "Mona Lisa: The Theft That Created a Legend," CNN, Nov. 19, 2013.

"Unravelling the Mona Lisa Mystery," Irish Independent, Aug. 5, 2017, 20.

John Timpane, "'Mona Lisa' Theft a Century Ago Created Modern Museums," McClatchy-Tribune Business News, Sept. 7, 2011.

"Noah Charney: Art Theft, From the 'Mona Lisa' to Today," Lima [Ohio] News, Aug. 23, 2011.

"Mona Lisa Thief Honored With a Play in Italian Hometown," [Beirut] Daily Star, Aug. 22, 2011.

Mary Orms, "Steal My Painting!", Toronto Star, Aug. 21, 2011, IN.1.

Jori Finkel, "Little-Known Facts About the 1911 Theft of Famed 'Mona Lisa,'" [Charleston, W.V.] Sunday Gazette-Mail, Aug. 21, 2011, F.9.

Alastair Sooke, "A Century of Mona Lisa, Superstar," Daily Telegraph, Aug. 20, 2011, 21.

"100 Years Ago, the Mona Lisa Vanishes," Times of Oman, Aug. 20, 2011.

"Mona Lisa: Still Smiling 100 Years After Being Stolen," Saudi Press Agency, Aug. 19, 2011.

"Mona Lisa Mystery," Atherton [Queensland] Tablelander, Jan. 5, 2010, 13.

Greg Callaghan, "A Short History of ... the Mona Lisa," Weekend Australian Magazine, Oct. 10, 2009, 8.

Jonathan Lopez, "The Tale of an Unsophisticated Criminal Convicted of Single-Handedly Stealing the Mona Lisa," Boston Globe, May 17, 2009, K.6.

Dwight Garner, "No Smiley Faces the Day the Lady Left the Louvre," New York Times, April 30, 2009.

Nick Morrison, "The Art of Lifting a Masterpiece," Darlington [U.K.] Northern Echo, Aug. 29, 2003, 12.

Helen Holmes, "Jodie Foster Will Direct a Movie About the Famous 'Mona Lisa' Heist," Observer, Jan. 31, 2020.

Miriam Berger, "Theft of German Treasures Joins Ranks of Brazen Museum Heists — From the 'Mona Lisa' to a Solid Gold Toilet," Washington Post (online), Nov. 28, 2019.

Terence McArdle, "How the Mona Lisa Became World-Famous," [Nairobi] Daily Nation, Nov. 2, 2019.

"Italy Alarmed by Art 'Sales,'" New York Times, Jan. 24, 1926.

"'Mona Lisa' Thief Gets a Year in Jail," New York Times, June 6, 1914.

"Trial of Perugia Begun," New York Times, June 5, 1914.

"Tried to Sell 'Mona Lisa,'" New York Times, Dec. 27, 1913.

"Three More Held in 'Mona Lisa' Theft," New York Times, Dec. 22, 1913.

"'Mona Lisa' Goes to Rome," New York Times, Dec. 20, 1913.

"Thinks Perugia Had Aid," New York Times, Dec. 17, 1913.

"Florentines in Riot Over 'Mona Lisa,'" New York Times, Dec. 15, 1913.

"Perugia's Eye to Business," New York Times, Dec. 15, 1913.

"Perugia Loved Girl Like 'Mona Lisa,'" New York Times, Dec. 15, 1913.

"Reading Mona Lisa's Riddle," New York Times, Dec. 15, 1913.

"Mona Lisa' on View to Public To-Day," New York Times, Dec. 14, 1913.

"Find 'Mona Lisa,' Arrest Robber," New York Times, Dec. 13, 1913.

"Thief's Story of His Crime," New York Times, Dec. 13, 1913.

Listener mail:

Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Daniel Keith Ludwig" (accessed May 23, 2020).

Anderson Antunes, "Was Eike Batista's Dream of Becoming the World's Richest Man Just That, a Dream?", Forbes, April 17, 2013.

Eric Pace, "Daniel Ludwig, Billionaire Businessman, Dies at 95," New York Times, Aug. 29, 1992.

Brian Nicholson, "End of U.S. Owner's Dream in the Amazon Jungle," UPI, Jan. 23, 1982.

Wikipedia, "Jari Project" (accessed May 23, 2020).

Jim Brooke, "Billionaire's Dream Founders in Amazon Jungle," Washington Post, May 31, 1981.

"Seahawks' KamQuake Rattled Seattle, but Beast Quake Still Rules," NBC News, Jan. 9, 2015.

Wikipedia, "Beast Quake" (accessed May 23, 2020).

Mike Triplett, "Beast Quake Remembered: Epic Run by Marshawn Lynch Still Reverberates in Seattle," ESPN, Dec. 24, 2019.

John Vidale, "One Year Ago, Seattle Seahawks 12th Man Earthquake," Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, Dec. 31, 2011.

Greg Bishop, "NFL Odd Jobs: The Seismologists Who Measure 'Fanquakes' at Seahawks Games," Sports Illustrated, Jan. 10, 2017.

Alan Boyle, "Seismologists Register 'Fan Quakes' From the Seattle Sounders' Stadium Crowd," GeekWire, Nov. 10, 2019.

Steve Malone, "SoundersFC Soccer Shake Experiment," Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, Nov. 8, 2019.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Ian Hauffe.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jun 01, 2020
297-A Sinto Boxer in Nazi Germany
32:03

In the 1930s, Sinto boxer Johann Trollmann was reaching the peak of his career when the Nazis declared his ethnic inferiority. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Trollmann's stand against an intolerant ideology and the price he paid for his fame.

We'll also consider a British concentration camp and puzzle over some mysterious towers.

Intro:

In 1872 Edward Lear offered a recipe for "Gosky Patties."

In 1927, engineer Edward R. Armstrong proposed a string of floating airports to link Europe and America.

Sources for our feature on Johann Trollmann:

Jud Nirenberg, Johann Trollmann and Romani Resistance to the Nazis, 2016.

Andrea Pitzer, One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, 2017.

Susan Tebbutt, "Piecing Together the Jigsaw: The History of the Sinti and Roma in Germany," in Susan Tebbutt, ed., Sinti and Roma: Gypsies in German-Speaking Society and Literature, 1998.

Theodoros Alexandridis, "Let's See Action," Roma Rights Quarterly 4 (2007), 95-97.

Linde Apel, "Stumbling Blocks in Germany," Rethinking History 18:2 (June 2014), 181-194.

Sybil Milton, "Sinti and Roma in Twentieth-Century Austria and Germany," German Studies Review 23:2 (May 2000), 317-331.

Paweł Wolski, "Excessive Masculinity: Boxer Narratives in Holocaust Literature," Teksty Drugie 2 (2017), 209-229.

Michaela Grobbel, "Crossing Borders of Different Kinds: Roma Theater in Vienna," Journal of Austrian Studies 48:1 (Spring 2015), 1-26.

Rainer Schulze, "Johann 'Rukeli' Trollmann," Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (accessed May 10, 2020).

Christina Newland, "Gypsy in the Ring: The Brave Life of Johann 'Rukeli' Trollmann," Fightland, Vice, July 25, 2016.

Rainer Schulze, "Punching Above Its Weight," Times Higher Education 2232 (Dec. 3, 2015).

Carol Sanders, "Boxers Have Long History of Fighting for Human Rights," Winnipeg Free Press, May 25, 2015, A.10.

A.J. Goldmann, "Memorials: Remembering the Resistance," Wall Street Journal, Aug. 26, 2014, D.5.

Alexandra Hudson, "Germany Finally Commemorates Roma Victims of Holocaust," Reuters, Oct. 23, 2012.

Von Siobhán Dowling, "Monument Honors Sinti Boxer Murdered by the Nazis," Spiegel, June 30, 2010.

Trollmann's professional boxing record.

Listener mail:

Megan Gannon, "'Forgotten' Nazi Camp on British Soil Revealed by Archaeologists," National Geographic, March 30, 2020.

Mindy Weisberger, "Hidden Atrocities of Nazis at Concentration Camp on British Island Finally Come to Light," Live Science, April 1, 2020.

Amy Brunskill, "Alderney's Concentration Camp Uncovered," Current Archaeology, May 12, 2020.

"Only Nazi Concentration Camp on British Soil May Be Protected," BBC News, March 10, 2015.

Alex Fox, "Archaeologists Reveal the Hidden Horrors of Only Nazi SS Camp on British Soil," Smithsonian.com, April 1, 2020.

Caroline Sturdy Colls, Janos Kerti, and Kevin Colls, "Tormented Alderney: Archaeological Investigations of the Nazi Labour and Concentration Camp of Sylt," Antiquity 94:374 (2020), 512-532.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Greg, based on an item in Rebecca Zurier's 1991 book The Firehouse: An Architectural and Social History.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

May 25, 2020
296-The Little Giants
32:27

In 1957, 14 boys from Monterrey, Mexico, walked into Texas to take part in a game of Little League baseball. What followed surprised and inspired two nations. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Monterrey Industrials and their unlikely path into baseball history.

We'll also have dinner for one in Germany and puzzle over a deadly stick.

Intro:

In a poetry contest, Mark Twain offered an entry of undeniable value.

Lewis Carroll composed a bewildering puzzle about a pig.

Sources for our feature on the Monterrey Industrials:

W. William Winokur, The Perfect Game, 2008.

Robin Van Auken, The Little League Baseball World Series, 2002.

Lance Van Auken, Play Ball!: The Story of Little League Baseball, 2001.

Jorge Iber, "Mexico: Baseball's Humble Beginnings to Budding Competitor," in George Gmelch and Daniel A. Nathan, eds., Baseball Beyond Our Borders: An International Pastime, 2017, 75–84.

Jim Morrison, "The Little League World Series' Only Perfect Game," Smithsonian.com, April 5, 2010.

Ramona Shelburne, "Giant Steps: A 12-Mile Walk to a Small Texas Town Started a Little League Championship Run for a Team From Monterrey, Mexico. Fifty Years Later, Its Story Is Retold," Los Angeles Daily News, Aug. 26, 2007, S.1.

Pablo Jaime Sáinz, "1957 Little League Champions Treated Like Heroes in San Diego," La Prensa San Diego, Nov. 24, 2010, 3.

Ben Brigandi, "Macias Returns to LLWS for Ceremony," Williamsport [Pa.] Sun-Gazette, Aug. 24, 2017.

"Reynosa Little Leaguers Inspired by 1957 Mexico Champions," Associated Press, Aug. 26, 2017.

Steve Wulf, "As Williamsport Opened Its Arms to Mexico's Team, Its Players Embraced the Legacy of Their Predecessors From Monterrey," ESPN, Aug 18, 2016.

"Cinderella Club Wins LL Crown," United Press, Aug. 24, 1957.

Michael Strauss, "88-Pounder Hope of Monterrey in Little League Series Today; Angel Macias, Ambidextrous, Is Team's No. 1 Pitcher, Batter and Fielder," New York Times, Aug. 22, 1957.

"Little League World Series Opens With Big-Time Pomp," [Kittanning, Pa.] Simpson's Leader-Times, Aug. 21, 1957, 13.

Michael Strauss, "Macias Hurls Perfect No-Hitter As Monterrey Captures Series," New York Times, Aug. 24, 1957.

Elaine Ayala, "Movie, Book Look Back at 'Perfect' Little League Game," My San Antonio, Sept. 2, 2009.

Reed Johnson, "'The Perfect Game' Dodged Many Curveballs En Route to Big Screen," Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2010.

"Pitcher Has Perfect Game As Taiwan Advances, 18-0," New York Times, Aug. 24, 1979.

Edward Wong, "Baseball: Bronx Team Wins Opener On Almonte's Perfect Game," New York Times, Aug. 19, 2001.

David Falkner, "Boys' Baseball and Men's Memories," New York Times, Aug. 20, 1986.

Marshall G. Most and Robert Rudd, "A Less Than Perfect Game, in a Less Than Perfect Place: The Critical Turn in Baseball Film," Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, 2011-2012, 180-195.

"Inspired by Film, Mexico Wins Little Series," Salt Lake Tribune, Aug. 24, 1997, B.7.

"First Perfect Game in 44 Years in Little League World Series: Bronx Pitcher Strikes Out 16 of 18 Batters," Ottawa Citizen, Aug. 19, 2001, B2.

"Gómez Inspired by Story Behind 'The Perfect Game': Cuban Actor Saw Similarities Between Role and His Upbringing," [Chicago] Extra, April 28, 2010.

Jeffrey Bair, "Little League World Series History Repeats Itself for Mexico With Dramatic, Last-Inning Victory," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Aug. 24, 1997, 18.

Nancy Cleeland, "Two Cities That Are ... Going to Town; Monterrey: Exploits of Guadalupe Stir 40-Year-Old Memories of First Team to Wrest Little League World Series Title From U.S.," Los Angeles Times, Aug. 23, 1997, C, 1:5.

"1957 Little League Baseball World Series Champion, Angel Macias, to Be Enshrined Into the Little League Hall of Excellence," Little League, Aug. 4, 2017.

1957 Little League World Series line scores (accessed May 3, 2020).

Baseball Reference, "Angel Macias" (accessed May 3, 2020).

Listener mail:

Jack Ritchie, "A Square Foot of Texas," Good Housekeeping 148:3 (March 1959), 90-91, 109-114. (Protected under copyright; used by permission of the Jack Ritchie Estate and the Sternig & Byrne Literary Agency.)

Wikipedia, "Dinner for One" (accessed May 7, 2020).

Stefanie Bolzen, "Dinner for One: The British Comedy Germans Have Been Laughing at for Years," Guardian, Dec. 30, 2018.

Joanna Robertson, "Dinner for One: English Comedy Spices Up German New Year," BBC News, Dec. 30, 2018.

Travis M. Andrews, "This British Comedy Sketch Is a Record-Breaking New Year's Eve Tradition in Germany. No One Knows Why," Washington Post, Jan. 4, 2017.

The "Dinner for One" sketch.

The "Dinner for One" sketch with the German introduction.

"Hermitage Remains Uninhabited This Year," Radio Salzburg, March 31, 2020 (translated from the original).

"An AI's Prank Suggestions," Pluralistic, April 2, 2020.

"An AI's Idea of a Prank," AI Weirdness, April 1, 2020.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Miles, who sent this corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

May 18, 2020
295-An Unlikely Attempt on Everest
33:35

In 1932, Yorkshireman Maurice Wilson chose a startling way to promote his mystical beliefs: He would fly to Mount Everest and climb it alone. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow Wilson's misguided adventure, which one writer called "the most incredible story in all the eventful history of Mount Everest."

Well also explore an enigmatic musician and puzzle over a mighty cola.

Intro:

The Sanskrit epic poem Shishupala Vadha contains a palindrome that can be read in any of four directions.

Type designer Matthew Carter offered a typeface for public buildings that comes with its own graffiti.

Sources for our feature on Maurice Wilson:

Dennis Roberts, I'll Climb Mount Everest Alone: The Story of Maurice Wilson, 2013.

Scott Ellsworth, The World Beneath Their Feet: Mountaineering, Madness, and the Deadly Race to Summit the Himalayas, 2020.

Geoff Powter, Strange and Dangerous Dreams: The Fine Line Between Adventure and Madness, 2006.

Sherry B. Ortner, Life and Death on Mt. Everest: Sherpas and Himalayan Mountaineering, 2001.

Maurice Isserman, Stewart Angas Weaver, and Dee Molenaar, Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering From the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes, 2010.

Conrad Anker, The Call of Everest: The History, Science, and Future of the World's Tallest Peak, 2013.

Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air, 1998.

Eric Shipton, Upon That Mountain, 1943.

Martin Gutmann, "Wing and a Prayer," Climbing, Dec. 6, 2010.

Robert M. Kaplan, "Maurice Wilson’s Everest Quest," Quadrant, June 18, 2016.

T.S. Blakeney, "Maurice Wilson and Everest, 1934," Alpine Journal 70 (1965), 269-272.

John Cottrell, "The Madman of Everest," Sports Illustrated, April 30, 1973.

Audrey Salkeld, "The Struggle for Everest," Climbing 188 (Sept. 15, 1999), 108-116.

Colin Wells, "Everest the Mad Way," Climbing 224 (Sept. 15, 2003), 40-44.

Troy Lennon, "Deadly Lure of Being on Top of the World," [Surry Hills, N.S.W.] Daily Telegraph, May 26, 2006, 74.

Ed Douglas, "Rivals Race to Solve Everest Body Mystery," Guardian, May 15, 2004.

Graham Hoyland, "The Complete Guide to: Mount Everest," Independent, May 10, 2003.

Nick Ravo, "Charles Warren, 92; Introduced Top Sherpa to Everest Climbers," New York Times, May 3, 1999.

Eric E. Shipton, "Body of Climber Found on Everest," New York Times, March 23, 1936.

"Perishes in Effort to Scale Everest," [Hendersonville, N.C.] Times-News, July 27, 1934, 4.

"Briton Perishes High on Everest," New York Times, July 20, 1934.

"The Eccentric Everest Adventurer," Inside Out, BBC One, Sept. 24, 2014.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Sixto Rodriguez" (accessed April 27, 2020).

David Malitz, "'Searching for Sugar Man' Documentary Rediscovers Musician Sixto Rodriguez," Washington Post, July 26, 2012.

Alexis Petridis, "The Singer Who Came Back From the Dead," Guardian, Oct. 6, 2005.

Greg Myre, "In Tragic Twist to Poignant Tale, Oscar-Winning Director Commits Suicide," Parallels, National Public Radio, May 14, 2014.

Geoffrey Macnab, "Searching for Sugar Man (12A)," Independent, July 27, 2012.

Wikipedia, "Franz von Werra" (accessed April 29, 2020).

Luis Rees-Hughes et al., "Multi-Disciplinary Investigations at PoW Camp 198, Bridgend, S. Wales: Site of a Mass Escape in March 1945," Journal of Conflict Archaeology 11:2-3 (2016), 166-191.

"Story of German POW to Escape Captivity in Britain Disclosed After 94 Years," Telegraph, Feb. 11, 2011.

David J. Carter, "Prisoner of War Camps in Canada," Canadian Encyclopedia, June 17, 2015.

Robin Quinn, Hitler's Last Army: German POWs in Britain, 2015.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Paul Heitkemper, who sent this corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

May 11, 2020
294-'The Murder Trial of the Century'
33:22

In 1957, an English doctor was accused of killing his patients for their money. The courtroom drama that followed was called the "murder trial of the century." In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the case of John Bodkin Adams and its significance in British legal history.

Well also bomb Calgary and puzzle over a passive policeman.

Intro:

In 1959, James Sellers proposed installing microphones in baseball bases.

In the Strand, Henry Dudeney offered a puzzle about asparagus bundles.

Sources for our feature on John Bodkin Adams:

Patrick Baron Devlin, Easing the Passing: The Trial of Dr John Bodkin Adams, 2004.

Sybille Bedford, The Trial of Dr. Adams, 1962.

Percy Hoskins, Two Men Were Acquitted: The Trial and Acquittal of Doctor John Bodkin Adams, 1984.

Kieran Dolin, "The Case of Dr. John Bodkin Adams: A 'Notable' Trial and Its Narratives," in Brook Thomas, ed., Law and Literature, 2002.

Jonathan Reinarz and Rebecca Wynter, eds., Complaints, Controversies and Grievances in Medicine: Historical and Social Science Perspectives, 2014.

Russell G. Smith, Health Care, Crime and Regulatory Control, 1998.

Gail Tulloch, Euthanasia, Choice and Death, 2005.

Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Munby, "Medicine and the Law of Homicide: A Case for Reform?", King's Law Journal 23:3 (December 2012), 207-232.

Percy Hoskins, "Points: Dr John Bodkin Adams," British Medical Journal (Clinical Research Edition) 287:6404 (Nov. 19, 1983), 1555.

"Trial of Dr. J. Bodkin Adams," British Medical Journal 1:5020 (March 23, 1957), 712-713.

"Trial of Dr. J. Bodkin Adams," British Medical Journal 1:5021 (March 30, 1957), 771-772.

"Trial of Dr. J. Bodkin Adams: Expert Evidence," British Medical Journal 1:5022 (April 6, 1957), 828-834.

"Trial of Dr. J. Bodkin Adams: Expert Evidence Continued," British Medical Journal 1:5023 (April 13, 1957), 889-894.

Daniel E. Murray, "The Trial of Dr. Adams," University of Miami Law Review 13:4 (1959), 494.

A.W. Simpson, "Euthanasia for Sale?", Michigan Law Review 84:4 (February-April 1986), 807.

J.E. Hall Williams, "The Report of the Tucker Committee on Proceedings Before Examining Justices (July, 1958: Cmnd. 479)," Modern Law Review 21:6 (November 1958), 647-652.

Caitlin Mahar, "Roy Porter Student Prize Essay, 2012: Easing the Passing: R v Adams and Terminal Care in Postwar Britain," Social History of Medicine 28:1 (2015), 155-171.

Peter Ranscombe, "Shipman and Bodkin Adams in the Dock," Lancet Psychiatry 2:11 (November 2015), e32.

"Crown vs. Dr. Adams: A Majestic Trial in Old Bailey," Life 42:16 (April 22, 1957), 30-37.

Amanda Poole, "Did Antrim's Notorious 'Doctor Death' Go to His Grave With 300 Murders on His Conscience?", Belfast Telegraph, May 21, 2013, 3.

Joyce Galbraith, "What Happens When Doctors Play God ...," Irish Medical Times 40:14 (April 7, 2006), 28.

Jeremy Laurance, "Serial Killers 'Attracted to Medical Profession,'" Independent, May 10, 2001, 10.

Ian Starrett, "Ulster's Notorious 'Mercy' Killing Doc," Belfast News Letter, Feb. 2, 2000, 13.

"Dr. John Bodkin Adams Is Buried, and So Is Answer to Patients' Deaths," Philadelphia Inquirer, July 22, 1983, C.18.

"Hearing for Dr. Adams Opens," New York Times, May 21, 1957.

"Dr. Adams -- One Month After Acquittal," New York Times, May 5, 1957.

"Adams Acquitted," New York Times, April 14, 1957.

Kennett Love, "Adams Case Due to Go to Jurors," New York Times, April 8, 1957.

Kennett Love, "Murder Defense May Call Adams," New York Times, April 1, 1957.

Kennett Love, "The Trial of Dr. Adams," New York Times, March 31, 1957.

Kennett Love, "Dr. Adams' Trial Enters 2d Week," New York Times, March 25, 1957.

Kennett Love, "Suicide Bid Cited in Poison Hearing," New York Times, Jan. 24, 1957.

Kennett Love, "Aim of Addiction Linked to Doctor," New York Times, Jan. 23, 1957

Kennett Love, "Britain's Doctor's Plot Already a Classic Case," New York Times, Jan. 20, 1957.

Kennett Love, "Unusual Request Linked to Doctor," New York Times, Jan. 19, 1957.

Kennett Love, "Evidence Is Gone, Britons Testify," New York Times, Jan. 18, 1957.

"Murder by Narcotic Addiction Is Charged to a British Doctor," New York Times, Jan. 15, 1957.

Percy Hoskins, "Adams, John Bodkin (1899–1983)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept. 23, 2004.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Before Present" (accessed April 25, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Radiocarbon Dating" (accessed April 25, 2020).

Erin Blakemore, "Radiocarbon Helps Date Ancient Objects -- But It's Not Perfect," National Geographic, July 12, 2019.

Mindy Weisberger, "Nuclear Fallout Exposes Fake 'Antique' Whisky," Live Science, Jan. 27, 2020.

David Williams, "Scottish Scientists Use Radioactive Isotopes From Old Nuclear Tests to Find Counterfeit Whisky. More Than 40 Percent of What They Tested Is Fake," CNN, Jan. 24, 2020.

"Cal Cavendish, the 'Mad Manure Bomber,' Tells His Story," CBC News, May 7, 2015.

Heath McCoy, "A Buzz From the Past," Calgary Herald, Jan. 31, 2009.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Chris Pallant.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

May 04, 2020
293-Lennie Gwyther
30:18

In 1932, 9-year-old Lennie Gwyther set out to ride a thousand kilometers to see the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Along the way he became a symbol of Australian grit and determination. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of Lennie's journey, and what it meant to a struggling nation.

We'll also recall a Moscow hostage crisis and puzzle over a surprising attack.

Intro:

Japanese detective novelist Edogawa Rampo's name is a phonetic homage.

Samuel Barber decided his future at age 9.

Sources for our feature on Lennie Gwyther:

Peter Lalor, The Bridge: The Epic Story of an Australian Icon -- The Sydney Harbour Bridge, 2006.

Stephanie Owen Reeder, Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony, 2015.

Susan Carson, "Spun From Four Horizons: Re-Writing the Sydney Harbour Bridge," Journal of Australian Studies 33:4 (2009), 417-429.

Paul Genoni, "The Sydney Harbour Bridge: From Modernity to Post-Modernity in Australian Fiction," Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature 12 (2012), 1-12.

"Lennie's Sister Thanks the Community in a Book," South Gippsland Sentinel-Times, Dec. 13, 2018.

Rachael Lucas, "Leongatha's Legendary 9yo Lennie Gwyther Garners a Statue for Epic Sydney Harbour Bridge Pony Ride," ABC Gippsland, Oct. 18, 2017.

Peter Lalor, "Salute for Bridge Boy Who Rode Into History," Weekend Australian, Oct. 14, 2017, 5.

Alexandra Laskie, "Lennie Gwyther's Solo Ride From Leongatha to Sydney Remembered," [Melbourne] Weekly Times, Oct. 13, 2017.

Jessica Anstice, "Lennie's Statue to Be Revealed," Great Southern Star, Oct. 10, 2017.

Yvonne Gardiner, "Lennie's Famous Ride Adds a New Bronzed Chapter," Queensland Times, June 15, 2017.

"Immortalising Lennie," South Gippsland Sentinel-Times, March 1, 2016.

Carolyn Webb, "The Nine-Year-Old Who Rode a Pony 1000km to Sydney," Sydney Morning Herald, Jan. 22, 2015.

Neil Kearney, "Little Lennie the Toast of a Nation," [Melbourne] Herald Sun, March 17, 2007, 33.

Michelle Cazzulino, "The Boy Who Rode 1400km to See Our Bridge," [Surry Hills, N.S.W.] Daily Telegraph, March 12, 2007, 11.

Peter Lalor, "A Symbol for Australia," Weekend Australian, March 10, 2007, 1.

"A Ride Into History," [Surry Hills, N.S.W.] Sunday Telegraph, Oct. 16, 2005, 91.

"Lennie Gwyther's Long Ride Ended," Bombala [N.S.W.] Times, June 17, 1932, 1.

"Lennie Gwyther Home," Lockhart [N.S.W.] Review and Oaklands Advertiser, June 14, 1932, 2.

"Lennie Gwyther," Sydney Morning Herald, June 11, 1932, 18.

"Visit of Lennie Gwyther," [Benalla, Victoria] North Eastern Ensign, May 27, 1932, 3.

"Lennie Gwyther," Sydney Morning Herald, May 9, 1932, 10.

"Lennie Gwyther Returning," Newcastle [N.S.W.] Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate, April 21, 1932, 6.

"Lennie Gwyther's Return Journey," Sydney Morning Herald, April 20, 1932, 12.

"Lennie Gwyther," Morwell [Victoria] Advertiser, April 15, 1932, 1.

"Lennie Gwyther's Example," Sydney Morning Herald, March 18, 1932, 7.

Lennie Gwyther, "The Boy With the Pony," Sydney Morning Herald, March 12, 1932, 9.

"Boy's Long Ride to Attend the Royal Show," Sydney Morning Herald, March 10, 1932, 12.

"550-Mile Pony Ride," Melbourne Herald, March 9, 1932, 11.

"A Boy, His Pony and the Sydney Harbour Bridge," Conversations, ABC Radio, Oct. 31, 2018.

"Lennie the Legend," The History Listen, ABC Radio National, April 17, 2018.

Charlotte Roberts, "Lennie Gwyther," Sydney Living Museums (accessed April 13, 2020).

Listener mail:

Claire Bates, "When Foot-and-Mouth Disease Stopped the UK in Its Tracks," BBC News Magazine, Feb. 17, 2016.

"Foot-and-Mouth Outbreak of 2001," BBC News, Feb. 18, 2011.

Wikipedia, "2001 United Kingdom Foot-and-Mouth Outbreak" (accessed April 18, 2020).

Video of a 4x4 Panda navigating a challenging track.

"Hostage Crisis in Moscow Theater," History.com, Nov. 24, 2009.

Wikipedia, "Moscow Theater Hostage Crisis" (accessed April 15, 2020).

Michael Wines, "The Aftermath in Moscow: Post-Mortem in Moscow; Russia Names Drug in Raid, Defending Use," New York Times, Oct. 31, 2002.

Erika Kinetz and Maria Danilova, "Lethal Chemical Now Used as a Drug Haunts Theater Hostages," Associated Press, Oct. 8, 2016.

Artem Krechetnikov, "Moscow Theatre Siege: Questions Remain Unanswered," BBC Russian, Oct. 24, 2012.

Becky Little, "How Opioids Were Used as Weapons During the Moscow Theater Hostage Crisis," History.com, May 25, 2018.

Anna Rudnitskaya, "Nord-Ost Tragedy Goes On," Moscow News, Feb. 29, 2008.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Greg. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Apr 27, 2020
292-Fordlandia
32:14

In 1927, Henry Ford decided to build a plantation in the Amazon to supply rubber for his auto company. The result was Fordlandia, an incongruous Midwestern-style town in the tropical rainforest. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the checkered history of Ford's curious project -- and what it revealed about his vision of society.

We'll also consider some lifesaving seagulls and puzzle over a false alarm.

Intro:

In 1891, the Strand tried to notate the songs of English birds.

The third line of Gray’s Elegy can be rearranged in 11 different ways while retaining its sense.

Sources for our feature on Fordlandia:

Greg Grandin, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City, 2010.

Elizabeth D. Esch, The Color Line and the Assembly Line: Managing Race in the Ford Empire, 2018.

Stephen L. Nugent, The Rise and Fall of the Amazon Rubber Industry: An Historical Anthropology, 2017.

Tom W. Bell, Your Next Government?: From the Nation State to Stateless Nations, 2018.

Ralf Barkemeyer and Frank Figge, "Fordlândia: Corporate Citizenship or Corporate Colonialism," Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management 19:2 (2012), 69-78.

John Galey, "Industrialist in the Wilderness: Henry Ford's Amazon Venture," Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 21:2 (May 1979), 261-289.

Joseph A. Russell, "Fordlandia and Belterra, Rubber Plantations on the Tapajos River, Brazil," Economic Geography 18:2 (April 1942), 125-145.

Mary A. Dempsey, "Henry Ford's Amazonian Suburbia," Americas 48:2 (March/April 1996), 44.

Nathan J. Citino, "The Global Frontier: Comparative History and the Frontier-Borderlands Approach in American Foreign Relations," Diplomatic History 25:4 (Fall 2001), 677.

Anna Tsing, "Earth Stalked by Man," Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 34:1 (Spring 2016), 2-16.

Bill Nasson, "Fording the Amazon," South African Journal of Science 106:5-6 (2010), 1-2.

Simon Romero, "Deep in Brazil's Amazon, Exploring the Ruins of Ford's Fantasyland," New York Times, Feb. 20, 2017.

Drew Reed, "Lost Cities #10: Fordlandia – The Failure of Henry Ford's Utopian City in the Amazon," Guardian, Aug. 19, 2016.

Greg Grandin, "Henry Ford's Jungle Folly," Sunday Telegraph, Jan. 31, 2010, 14.

Ben Macintyre, "Dearborn-on-Amazon," New York Times, July 16, 2009.

Mary A. Dempsey, "Trailing Henry Ford in Amazon Forest," Globe and Mail, Aug. 20, 1994, F.7.

"Brazil to Take Over Ford Rubber Lands," Associated Press, Dec. 26, 1945.

"Brazil May Grow Rubber for U.S.," Wilmington [N.C.] Morning Star, Feb. 19, 1942.

Thomas R. Henry, "Of Stars, Men, and Atoms," [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, Feb. 7, 1942.

"Fordlandia to Get Labor; Brazil Prepares to Send Men to Rubber Plantation," New York Times, Aug. 22, 1940.

"Fordlandia Built in Brazil's Jungle," New York Times, Dec. 9, 1934.

"Opposition to Ford Dropped in Brazil," New York Times, May 3, 1931.

"Ford Project Aids Amazon Progress," [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, June 29, 1930.

"Ford Plantation in Brazil Is Ideal," [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, Nov. 4, 1928.

Katie Canales, "Henry Ford Built 'Fordlandia,' a Utopian City Inside Brazil's Amazon Rainforest That's Now Abandoned — Take a Look Around," Business Insider, Feb. 10, 2020.

"Fordlandia: The Failure of Ford's Jungle Utopia," All Things Considered, National Public Radio, June 6, 2009.

"Popular Research Topics: Ford Rubber Plantations in Brazil," The Henry Ford (accessed April 5, 2020).

Listener mail:

"Hundreds of Billions of Locusts Swarm in East Africa," BBC News, March 10, 2020.

Antoaneta Roussi, "Why Gigantic Locust Swarms Are Challenging Governments and Researchers," Nature, March 12, 2020.

Kaamil Ahmed, "Locust Crisis Poses a Danger to Millions, Forecasters Warn," Guardian, March 20, 2020.

Rodney Muhumuza, "New, Larger Wave of Locusts Threatens Millions in Africa," Associated Press, April 10, 2020.

"China Will Not Send Ducks to Tackle Locusts in Pakistan, Says Expert," Guardian, Feb. 27, 2020.

Kate Ng, "Army of 100,000 Ducks Deployed to Combat Locust Infestation," Independent, Feb. 27, 2020.

"China May Send Ducks to Battle Pakistan's Locust Swarms," BBC News, Feb. 27, 2020.

Katherine J. Wu, "Is a Duck Army Coming for Pakistan's Locusts? Not So Fast," Smithsonian, Feb. 28, 2020.

Wikipedia, "Seagull Monument" (accessed April 6, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Miracle of the Gulls" (accessed April 6, 2020).

Ryan Cunningham, "A Seagull Story," Salt Lake City Weekly, Feb. 15, 2017.

Trent Toone, "Was the 'Miracle of the Gulls' Exaggerated? LDS Historians Explain," LDS Living, July 23, 2018.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Florian, who sent these corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Apr 20, 2020
291-Half-Safe
30:46

In 1946, Australian engineer Ben Carlin decided to circle the world in an amphibious jeep. He would spend 10 years in the attempt, which he called an "exercise in technology, masochism, and chance." In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Carlin's unlikely odyssey and the determination that drove him.

We'll also salute the Kentucky navy and puzzle over some surprising winners.

Intro:

During World War II a New Zealand duck served as sergeant in a U.S. Marine battalion.

In 1938 H.P. Lovecraft wrote an acrostic sonnet to Edgar Allan Poe.

Sources for our feature on Ben Carlin and the Half-Safe:

Gordon Bass, The Last Great Australian Adventurer: Ben Carlin's Epic Journey Around the World by Amphibious Jeep, 2017.

Boyé De Mente, Once a Fool -- From Tokyo to Alaska by Amphibious Jeep, 2005.

William Longyard, A Speck on the Sea: Epic Voyages in the Most Improbable Vessels, 2004.

Paula Grey, A History of Travel in 50 Vehicles, 2016.

"Across the Atlantic by Jeep," Life 29:21 (Nov. 20, 1950), 149-153.

James Nestor, "Half-Safe: A Story of Love, Obsession, and History's Most Insane Around-the-World Adventure," Atavist 20 (December 2012).

Justin Pollard, "The Eccentric Engineer: How Sea Sickness and Near-Suffocation Spoiled a Romantic Getaway," Engineering & Technology 14:5 (2019), 89.

Gordon Bass, "The Great Escape," Weekend Australian Magazine, July 29, 2017, 20.

"50 Years Ago in Alaska," Alaska 73:10 (December 2007/January 2008), 13.

Dag Pike, "Still Crazy," Yachting 201:4 (April 2007), 74-78.

Eliza Wynn, "Northam Born Adventurer Showcased in Travel Film Festival," [Northam, Western Australia] Avon Valley Advocate, May 23, 2018, 2.

"Guildford to Get a Taste of Adventure," Midland Kalamunda [Western Australia] Reporter, April 17, 2018, 5.

Troy Lennon, "Aussie Adventurer's Crazy Global Jeep Jaunt," Daily Telegraph, Aug. 1, 2017, 23.

"Ben Carlin Subject of New Book," Midland Kalamunda Reporter, Sept. 15, 2015, 2.

Lorraine Horsley and Emma Wynne, "School Remembers Perth Adventurer Who Circumnavigated Globe in Half Safe, World War II Amphibious Jeep," ABC Premium News, June 22, 2015.

"No Half Measures for Carlin," Melville [Western Australia] Times, June 28, 2011, 29.

"Half-Safe Inspires Couple in Their Travels Across the Globe," Midland Kalamunda Reporter, July 7, 2009, 3.

Warren Brown, "Jeep Thrills on the High Seas," [Surry Hills, New South Wales] Daily Telegraph, Oct. 29, 2004, Y07.

"Ben Carlin Ends 10-Year 'Around the World' Trip," The Age, May 15, 1958, 4.

Listener mail:

Andrea Gallo and Ben Kesling, "Par-A-Dice Captain Is Lucky to Roll Once a Year," Wall Street Journal, Aug. 10, 2014.

Jennifer Delgado and Robert McCoppin, "Des Plaines Casino Goes Vegas to Corner Upscale Chicago Market," Chicago Tribune, July 15, 2011.

Douglas Holt, "Gambling Boats May Go Nowhere, But Captain, Crew Stay Afloat," Chicago Tribune, April 16, 2000.

Paul Sloca, "Missouri's 'Boats in Moats' Get That Sinking Feeling," Los Angeles Times, Jan. 18, 1998.

Wikipedia, "Riverboat Casino" (accessed April 1, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Rivers Casino (Des Plaines)" (accessed March 23, 2020).

Mark Ballard, "First Riverboat Casino Approved to Come Ashore Near Lake Charles; See Next Steps, Expected Completion," [New Orleans] Advocate, Dec. 19, 2019.

Text of Kentucky House Resolution 256, "Encourage the Purchase of a Submarine to Destroy Casino Riverboats":

A RESOLUTION encouraging the purchase and vigorous use of the USS Louisville 688 VLS Class submarine.

WHEREAS, in the past few years the scourge of the casino riverboat has been an increasingly significant presence on the Ohio River; and

WHEREAS, the Ohio River borders the Commonwealth of Kentucky; and

WHEREAS, the siren song of payola issuing from the discordant calliopes of these gambling vessels has led thousands of Kentucky citizens to vast disappointment and woe; and

WHEREAS, no good can come to the citizens of Kentucky hypnotized from the siren song issuing from these casino riverboats, the engines of which are fired by the hard-earned dollars lost from Kentucky citizens;

NOW, THEREFORE,
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:

Section 1. The House of Representatives does hereby encourage the formation of the Kentucky Navy and subsequently immediately encourages the purchase and armament of one particularly effective submarine, namely, the USS Louisville 688 VLS Class Submarine, to patrol the portion of the Ohio River under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth to engage and destroy any casino riverboats that the submarine may encounter.

Section 2. The House of Representatives does hereby authorize the notification of the casino riverboat consulate of this Resolution and impending whoopin' so that they may remove their casino vessels to friendlier waters.

(To find the resolution on the website of the Kentucky General Assembly, search for the term "submarine" in the Legislative Record for the 2002 Regular Session.)

"Kentucky Lawmaker Makes Fiscal Point With Humorous Legislation," Fox News, March 29, 2002.

David Mikkelson, "Kentucky Submarine Purchase," Snopes, July 18, 2007.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Frank Kroeger, who sent this corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Apr 13, 2020
290-Voss' Last Stand
30:09

In 1917, German pilot Werner Voss had set out for a patrol over the Western Front when he encountered two flights of British fighters, including seven of the best pilots in the Royal Flying Corps. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the drama that followed, which has been called "one of the most extraordinary aerial combats of the Great War."

We'll also honk at red lights in Mumbai and puzzle over a train passenger's mistake.

Intro:

The minuet in Haydn's Piano Sonata in A Major is a palindrome.

In 1909, Ulysses, Kansas, moved two miles west.

Sources for our feature on Werner Voss:

Barry Diggens, September Evening: The Life and Final Combat of the German World War One Ace Werner Voss, 2012.

Dan Hampton, Lords of the Sky: Fighter Pilots and Air Combat, From the Red Baron to the F-16, 2014.

Michael Dorflinger, Death Was Their Co-Pilot: Aces of the Skies, 2017.

Michael O'Connor, In the Footsteps of the Red Baron, 2005.

Norman S. Leach, Cavalry of the Air: An Illustrated Introduction to the Aircraft and Aces of the First World War, 2014.

O'Brien Browne, "Shooting Down a Legend," MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History 23:2 (Winter 2011), 66.

Jon Guttman, "Aerial Warfare Revived the Ancient Drama of the One-on-One Duel," Military History 18:5 (December 2001), 6.

O'Brien Browne, "The Red Baron's Lone Wolf Rival," Aviation History 13:6 (July 2003), 30.

Jon Guttman, "The Third Battle of Ypres Saw the Death of an Idealistic Generation -- in the Air as Well as on the Ground," Military History 14:5 (December 1997), 6.

Kirk Lowry, "September Evening: The Life and Final Combat of the German World War One Ace Werner Voss," Military History 22:6 (September 2005), 68.

O'Brien Browne, "The Perfect Soldier," Aviation History 22:1 (September 2011), 30-35.

David T. Zabecki, "Hallowed Ground German War Cemetery Langemark, Belgium," Military History 32:5 (January 2016), 76-77.

O'Brien Browne, "Deadly Duo," Aviation History 24:1 (September 2013), 44-49.

A.D. Harvey, "Why Was the Red Baron's Fokker Painted Red? Decoding the Way Aeroplanes Were Painted in the First World War," War in History 8:3 (2001), 323-340.

Dick Smith, "Build Your Own Fokker F.I Triplane," Aviation History 13:6 (July 2003), 37.

James Lawrence, "A Victory That Vanished in the Mire," Times, May 20, 2017, 16.

Robert Hands, "'Master of the Skies for a Fleeting Moment': A Brief and Brilliant Life -- Arthur Rhys Davids Was a Pioneering Pilot in the First World War," Times, July 3, 2010, 108.

Karen Price, "World War I, by Four Men Who Were There," Western Mail, Aug. 19 2006, 24.

Meir Ronnen, "Death in the Mud," Jerusalem Post, Nov. 10, 1989, 14.

"Famous 'Aces' Downed; Friend and Foe Lose," Madison [S.D.] Daily Leader, Feb. 14, 1918.

Listener mail:

Richard Proenneke's website.

Hannah Ellis-Petersen, "'Honk More, Wait More': Mumbai Tests Traffic Lights That Reward the Patient Driver," Guardian, Feb. 5, 2020.

Rory Sullivan and Esha Mitra, "Mumbai Tests Traffic Lights That Stay Red If You Honk Your Horn," CNN, Feb. 5, 2020.

Jeffrey Gettleman, "Mumbai Police Play a Trick on Honking Drivers," New York Times, Feb. 4, 2020.

"The Punishing Signal in Collaboration With Mumbai Police," FCB Interface Communications, Jan. 30, 2020.

"Killer's Remains Will Stay in Museum," East Anglian Daily Times, March 23, 2007.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Marie Nearing, who sent this corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Apr 05, 2020
289-The Johnstown Flood
32:48

In 1889, a dam failed in southwestern Pennsylvania, sending 20 million tons of water down an industrialized valley toward the unsuspecting city of Johnstown. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe some of the dramatic and harrowing personal stories that unfolded on that historic day.

We'll also celebrate Christmas with Snoopy and puzzle over a deadly traffic light.

Intro:

For an 1866 California lecture tour, Mark Twain wrote his own handbills.

Raymond Chandler's unused titles include The Diary of a Loud Check Suit.

Sources for our feature on the Johnstown flood:

David McCullough, Johnstown Flood, 1968.

Richard O'Connor, Johnstown the Day the Dam Broke, 1957.

Neil M. Coleman, Johnstown's Flood of 1889: Power Over Truth and the Science Behind the Disaster, 2018.

Frank Connelly and George C. Jenks, Official History of the Johnstown Flood, 1889.

John Stuart Ogilvie, History of the Great Flood in Johnstown, Pa., May 31, 1889, 1889.

Willis Fletcher Johnson, History of the Johnstown Flood, 1889.

Neil M. Coleman, Uldis Kaktins, and Stephanie Wojno, "Dam-Breach Hydrology of the Johnstown Flood of 1889 -- Challenging the Findings of the 1891 Investigation Report," Heliyon 2:6 (2016), e00120.

Christine M. Kreiser, "Wave of Destruction," American History 50:4 (October 2015), 38-41.

Uldis Kaktins et al., "Revisiting the Timing and Events Leading to and Causing the Johnstown Flood of 1889," Pennsylvania History 80:3 (2013), 335-363.

Sid Perkins, "Johnstown Flood Matched Volume of Mississippi River," Science News, Oct. 20, 2009.

Emily Godbey, "Disaster Tourism and the Melodrama of Authenticity: Revisiting the 1889 Johnstown Flood," Pennsylvania History 73:3 (2006), 273-315.

Mary P. Lavine, "The Johnstown Floods: Causes and Consequences," in S.K. Majumdar et al., eds., Natural and Technological Disasters: Causes, Effects and Preventative Measures, Pennsylvania Academy of Science, 1992.

Robert D. Christie, "The Johnstown Flood," Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 54:2 (April 1971), 198-210.

John Bach McMaster, "The Johnstown Flood," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 57:3 (1933), 209-243.

John Bach McMaster, "The Johnstown Flood: II," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 57:4 (1933), 316-354.

"The Johnstown Disaster," Scientific American 60:26 (June 29, 1889), 406-407.

Jason Zweig, "National News, 1889: Club Is Found Culpable in Johnstown Flood," Wall Street Journal, July 7, 2014.

David Hurst, "'It's Still Controversial': Debate Rages Over Culpability of Wealthy Club Members," [Johnstown, Pa.] Tribune-Democrat, May 25, 2014.

Peter Smith, "Johnstown Flood of 1889: Greatest Disaster in the State Continues to Resonate," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 24, 2014.

Henry Fountain, "Research at the Source of a Pennsylvania Flood," New York Times, Oct. 26, 2009.

"Town's Ads Say Its Catastrophic Flood 'Is Over,'" [Prescott, Ariz.] Daily Courier, March 31, 2002.

"Bones May Be From 1889 Flood," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 8, 1998, B-4.

Eric Pace, "Frank Shomo, Infant Survivor of Johnstown Flood, Dies at 108," New York Times, March 24, 1997.

D. Byron Yake, "In Johnstown, They Still Talk About the Flood 85 Years Ago," [Washington, Pa.] Observer-Reporter, May 31, 1974, B-6.

"Black Day in 1889; Johnstown, Pa., Marks Flood Anniversary," New York Times, May 24, 1964.

"Flood Just Part of Little Known Tale Behind Johnstown Woes," [Washington D.C.] Evening Star, May 30, 1939.

"A Valley of Death," Three Rivers [Mich.] Tribune, June 7, 1889, 6.

Johnstown Area Heritage Association, "Johnstown Flood Museum: Pennsylvania Railroad Interview Transcripts," 2013.

Listener mail:

Kelly Servick, "Brain Parasite May Strip Away Rodents' Fear of Predators -- Not Just of Cats," Science, Jan. 14, 2020.

Madlaina Boillat et al., "Neuroinflammation-Associated Aspecific Manipulation of Mouse Predator Fear by Toxoplasma gondii," Cell Reports 30:2 (2020), 320-334.

"Toxoplasma Infection in Mice Reduces Generalized Anxiety, Not Just Feline Fear," Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Jan. 15, 2020.

The Royal Guardsmen, "Snoopy's Christmas," 1967.

The Royal Guardsmen, "Snoopy vs. The Red Baron," 1966.

Wikipedia, "Snoopy's Christmas" (accessed March 15, 2020).

Alistair Hughes, "Snoopy Still Flying at Christmas," Stuff, Dec. 8, 2014.

"Snoopy's Christmas 'Worst Christmas Song of All Time,'" New Zealand Herald, Dec. 18, 2007.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was suggested by listeners David and Becky Pruessner. Here are two corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Mar 30, 2020
288-Death at the Lane Cove River
31:37

On New Year's Day 1963, two bodies were discovered on an Australian riverbank. Though their identities were quickly determined, weeks of intensive investigation failed to uncover a cause or motive for their deaths. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Bogle-Chandler case, which riveted Australia for years.

We'll also revisit the Rosenhan study and puzzle over a revealing lighthouse.

Intro:

Alphonse Allais' 1897 Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man is silent.

In 1975 muralist Richard Haas proposed restoring the shadows of bygone Manhattan buildings.

Sources for our feature on the Bogle-Chandler case:

Peter Butt, Who Killed Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler?, 2017.

"A New Twist in the Case That Puzzled a Nation," Canberra Times, Sept. 3, 2016, 2.

Damien Murphy, "New Twist in Gilbert Bogle and Margaret Chandler Murder Mystery," Sydney Morning Herald, Sept. 2, 2016.

Tracy Bowden, "Two Women May Hold Answer to How Dr Gilbert Bogle and Margaret Chandler Died in 1963," ABC News, Sept. 2, 2016.

Tracy Bowden, "Two Women May Hold Key to Bogle-Chandler Case," 7.30, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sept. 2, 2016.

Frank Walker, "Deadly Gas Firms as Chandler-Bogle Killer," Sydney Morning Herald, Sept. 17, 2006, 41.

D.D. McNicoll, "Riddle by the Riverside," Weekend Australian, Sept. 9, 2006, 21.

Malcolm Brown, "The Gas Did It: Bogle-Chandler Theory Blames Toxic Cloud," Sydney Morning Herald, Sept. 8, 2006, 3.

Anna Salleh, "Bogle-Chandler Case Solved?", ABC Science, Sept. 8, 2006.

Michael Edwards, "Experts Divided Over Bogle Death Theory," PM, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sept. 8, 2006.

Lisa Power, "Daring Affairs Came to a Gruesome End," Daily Telegraph, Sept. 7, 2006, 28.

Skye Yates, "New Year's Curse," Daily Telegraph, March 26, 2001, 63.

Tony Stephens, "New Year Murder Theory in Bogle Affair," Sydney Morning Herald, Jan. 2, 1998, 6.

Joseph Lose, "Lovers 'Poisoned', Not LSD; Bodies Found Neatly Covered," [Auckland] Sunday News, Jan. 28, 1996, 7.

"Breakthrough in 30-year Murder Mystery," [Wellington, New Zealand] Sunday Star-Times, Jan. 21, 1996, A1.

Jack Waterford, "Mystery Unsolved After 25 Years," Canberra Times, Jan. 1, 1988, 2.

"Court Told of Close Association," Canberra Times, May 25, 1963, 3.

"Chandler in Witness Box," Canberra Times, May 23, 1963, 3.

"Woman Called to 2-Death Inquest," The Age, March 1, 1963.

Cameron Hazlehurst, "Bogle, Gilbert Stanley (1924–1963)," Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, 1993.

Malcolm Brown, "Sweeney, Basil (1925–2009)," Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University (accessed March 2, 2020).

Listener mail:

Vaughan Bell, "I Seem to Be What I'm Not (You See)," Lancet Psychiatry 7:3 (March 1, 2020), 242.

Jennifer Szalai, "Investigating a Famous Study About the Line Between Sanity and Madness," New York Times, Nov. 27, 2019.

Emily Eakin, "Her Illness Was Misdiagnosed as Madness. Now Susannah Cahalan Takes on Madness in Medicine," New York Times, Nov. 2, 2019.

Hans Pols, "Undercover in the Asylum," Science, Nov. 8, 2019, 697.

Gina Perry, "Deception and Illusion in Milgram's Accounts of the Obedience Experiments," Theoretical & Applied Ethics 2:2 (2013), 79-92.

Hannah Dwan, "Fighting Baseball on the SNES Had Some of the Funniest Names in Gaming," Telegraph, Oct. 5, 2017.

Wikipedia, "MLBPA Baseball" (accessed March 7, 2020).

Roderick David Buchanan, "The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness," Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 56:1 (Winter 2020), 52-53.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Steven Jones. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Mar 16, 2020
287-The Public Universal Friend
29:30

After a severe fever in 1776, Rhode Island farmer's daughter Jemima Wilkinson was reborn as a genderless celestial being who had been sent to warn of the coming Apocalypse. But the general public was too scandalized by the messenger to pay heed to the message. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Public Universal Friend and the prejudiced reaction of a newly formed nation.

We'll also bid on an immortal piano and puzzle over some Icelandic conceptions.

Intro:

When identical images of a tower are placed side by side, the towers appear to diverge.

In 2002, Erl E. Kepner patented a one-sided coffee mug.

Sources for our feature on the Public Universal Friend:

Paul B. Moyer, The Public Universal Friend: Jemima Wilkinson and Religious Enthusiasm in Revolutionary America, 2015.

Herbert Andrew Wisbey, Pioneer Prophetess: Jemima Wilkinson, the Publick Universal Friend, 1964.

Catherine A. Brekus, Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845, 2000.

Michael Bronski, A Queer History of the United States, 2011.

Joel Whitney Tibbetts, Women Who Were Called: A Study of the Contributions to American Christianity of Ann Lee, Jemima Wilkinson, Mary Baker Eddy and Aimee Semple McPherson, 1978.

Stafford Canning Cleveland, History and Directory of Yates County, 1873.

Lewis Cass Aldrich, History of Yates County, N.Y., 1892.

Wilkins Updike, James MacSparran, and Daniel Goodwin, A History of the Episcopal Church in Narragansett, Rhode Island, Volume 1, 1907.

Sharon Betcher, "'The Second Descent of the Spirit of Life from God': The Assumption of Jemima Wilkinson," in Brenda E. Brasher and Lee Quinby, eds., Gender and Apocalyptic Desire, 2014.

Paul Buckley, "The Public Universal Friend: Jemima Wilkinson and Religious Enthusiasm in Revolutionary America," Friends Journal 62:6 (June-July 2016), 38.

Scott Larson, "'Indescribable Being': Theological Performances of Genderlessness in the Society of the Publick Universal Friend, 1776-1819," Early American Studies 12:3 (Fall 2014), 576-600.

Shelby M. Balik, "The Public Universal Friend: Jemima Wilkinson and Religious Enthusiasm in Revolutionary America," Journal of the Early Republic 38:1, 157-160.

Gwen Gosney Erickson, "The Public Universal Friend: Jemima Wilkinson and Religious Enthusiasm in Revolutionary America," Quaker History 106:1 (Spring 2017), 28-29.

Beverly C. Tomek, "The Public Universal Friend: Jemima Wilkinson and Religious Enthusiasm in Revolutionary America," Journal of American History 103:3 (December 2016), 746–747.

Charles Lowell Marlin, "Jemima Wilkinson: Errant Quaker Divine," Quaker History 52:2 (Autumn 1963), 90-94.

Jeremy Rapport, "The Public Universal Friend: Jemima Wilkinson and Religious Enthusiasm in Revolutionary America," Early American Literature 52:1 (2017), 249-253, 267.

Janet Moore Lindman, "From Salvation to Damnation: Popular Religion in Early America," Reviews in American History 45:4 (December 2017), 570-575.

Margaret Bendroth, "Angry Women and the History of American Evangelicalism," Fides et Historia 34:2 (Summer 2002), 113.

Samantha Schmidt, "A Genderless Prophet Drew Hundreds of Followers Long Before the Age of Nonbinary Pronouns," Washington Post, Jan. 5, 2020.

Molly Worthen, "A Tour Through the 'American Messiahs' of Our Past," New York Times, April 26, 2019.

Greg Barnhisel, "The Book of Nonconformists: America Has Always Been a Home to Self-Styled Messiahs," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 7, 2019, E5.

Chris Jennings, "The Prophets Among Us," Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2019, A15.

Gary Craig, "'Friend' Fund Named in Suit Found Offshore," Rochester [N.Y.] Democrat and Chronicle, Jan. 7, 2007, A7.

"Life Story: The Public Universal Friend (1752–1819)," Women & The American Story, New York Historical Society (accessed Feb. 25, 2020).

Listener mail:

Sonia Purnell, A Woman of No Importance, 2019.

"Britain's Secret WWII Weapons Revealed," BBC News, Oct. 26, 1999.

Patrick Sawer and Hannah Furness, "From Garlic Chocolate to Exploding Animal Droppings: How Britain's Weird WWII Inventions Helped Fool the Nazis," Telegraph, June 1, 2017.

Neil Johnston, "Weird Weapons That Nobbled Nazis Revealed in New Book," Times, June 2, 2017.

Wikipedia, "Charles Fraser-Smith" (accessed Feb. 29, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Q-Ship" (accessed Feb. 29, 2020).

James Barron, "Charles Fraser-Smith, Mr. Gadget For James Bond Tales, Dies at 88," New York Times, Nov. 13, 1992.

Barry Fox, "Review: Careful Carruthers, That Paper Clip Is Loaded," New Scientist, Aug. 14, 1993.

Owen Mortimer, "'Immortal Piano' Offered for Sale Online," Rhinegold Publishing, Jan. 20, 2020.

Russian pianist Anatole Kitain performs the Adagio from Bach's Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564, on the Siena piano.

eBay, "Siena Pianoforte Immortal Piano Marchisio 1800's Sculpted By Bartalozzi & Ferri," listing ended Feb. 5, 2020.

"Seized by Nazis, Found in Israel, 'Immortal Piano' Expected to Fetch $1m," Times of Israel, March 1, 2020.

"'Immortal Piano' Set for Israel Auction," ArtDaily, March 6, 2020.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Chris Pallant. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Mar 09, 2020
286-If Day
33:19

In 1942, Manitoba chose a startling way to promote the sale of war bonds -- it staged a Nazi invasion of Winnipeg. For one gripping day, soldiers captured the city, arrested its leaders, and oppressed its citizens. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe If Day, which one observer called "the biggest and most important publicity stunt" in Winnipeg's history.

We'll also consider some forged wine and puzzle over some unnoticed car options.

Intro:

In 1649 Claude Mellan carved a portrait of Jesus with a single line.

A pebble discovered in southern Africa may be the earliest evidence of an aesthetic sense among our ancestors.

Sources for our feature on If Day:

Jody Perrun, The Patriotic Consensus: Unity, Morale, and the Second World War in Winnipeg, 2014.

Darren Sean Wershler-Henry, Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg, 2010.

Michael Newman, "February 19, 1942: If Day," Manitoba History 13 (Spring 1987), 27-30.

Graham Chandler, "If Day: The Occupation of Manitoba," Legion Feb. 1, 2017.

Ted Burch, "The Day the Nazis Took Over Winnipeg," Maclean's, Sept. 10, 1960.

"Winnipeg Is 'Conquered,'" Life 12:10 (March 9, 1942), 30-32.

"Tips for Spotting Nazis," National Post, May 10, 2019.

Tristin Hopper, "Rare Photos From 'If Day' — The Time Winnipeg Staged a Full-Scale Nazi Invasion of Itself," National Post, Feb. 21, 2019.

Don Pelechaty, "Remembrance Day Memories of 1942," Central Plains Herald-Leader, Nov. 9, 2017, A.17.

Mike Huen, "'If Day' Currency Blast From the Possible Past," Winnipeg Free Press, June 30, 2017, E3.

Christian Cassidy, "When War Came to Winnipeg: 75 Years Ago, City Staged Bold and Hugely Successful Publicity Stunt," Winnipeg Free Press, Feb. 19, 2017, 1.

"75 Years Ago, Winnipeggers Said 'What If?", Winnipeg Free Press, Feb. 17, 2017.

Karen Howlett, "Fundraiser Sees Winnipeg Invaded by Fake Nazis," Globe and Mail, Feb. 19, 2014, A.2.

Alexandra Paul, "When War Came to Winnipeg," Winnipeg Free Press, Feb. 19, 2012, A.4.

Ron Robinson, "The Day Nazis Came to Winnipeg," National Post, June 21, 2008, A.23.

"George Waight, 93 Was Banker, Actor," Toronto Star, Dec. 17, 1985, B5.

"George Waight, Bank Executive, Was Actor," Globe and Mail, Dec. 17, 1985, A.14.

"Nazi Army's 'Invasion' of Winnipeg Remembered," Regina [Saskatchewan] Leader-Post, March 4, 1985, A5.

"If Day," University of Manitoba Digital Collections.

Listener mail:

Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Wolfgang Beltracchi" (accessed Feb. 22, 2020).

Christopher Goodwin, "Wolfgang Beltracchi: A Real Con Artist," Times, May 10, 2014.

"Convicted Forger Claims He Faked 'About 50' Artists," BBC News, March 7, 2012.

Ben Kenigsberg, "Review: 'Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery' Tells How a Swindler Fooled the World," New York Times, Aug. 18, 2015.

Wikipedia, "Rudy Kurniawan" (accessed Feb. 22, 2020).

Ed Cumming, "The Great Wine Fraud," Guardian, Sept. 10, 2016.

Tatiana Schlossberg, "Wine Dealer Sentenced to 10 Years for Defrauding Clients," New York Times, Aug. 7, 2014.

William K. Rashbaum and Matt Flegenheimer, "Renowned Wine Dealer Accused of Trying to Sell Counterfeits," New York Times, March 8, 2012.

"Third of Rare Scotch Whiskies Tested Found to Be Fake," BBC News, Dec. 20, 2018.

"Whisky Sour? Rare or Fake Scotch Exposed by Carbon-Dating," Reuters, Dec. 20, 2018.

Mindy Weisberger, "Nuclear Fallout Exposes Fake 'Antique' Whisky," LiveScience, Jan. 27, 2020.

David Williams, "Scottish Scientists Use Radioactive Isotopes From Old Nuclear Tests to Find Counterfeit Whisky. More Than 40 Percent of What They Tested Is Fake," CNN, Jan. 24, 2020.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Brian Voeller, who sent these corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Mar 02, 2020
285-The Grasshopper Plagues
31:27

In the 1870s, new farmsteads on the American plains were beset by enormous swarms of grasshoppers sweeping eastward from the Rocky Mountains. The insects were a disaster for vulnerable farmers, attacking in enormous numbers and devouring everything before them. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the grasshopper plagues and the settlers' struggles against them.

We'll also delve into urban legends and puzzle over some vanishing children.

Intro:

In 2001, a Washington earthquake drew a rose with a pendulum.

In 2003, Japanese web designer Nobuyuki Kayahara created a curiously ambiguous animation.

Sources for our feature on the grasshopper plagues:

Jeffrey A. Lockwood, Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect That Shaped the American Frontier, 2009.

Annette Atkins, Harvest of Grief: Grasshopper Plagues and Public Assistance in Minnesota, 1873-78, 2003.

Joanna Stratton, Pioneer Women, 2013.

Samuel Clay Bassett, Buffalo County, Nebraska, and Its People, 1916.

Harold E. Briggs, "Grasshopper Plagues and Early Dakota Agriculture, 1864-1876," Agricultural History 8:2 (April 1934), 51-63.

Stephen Gross, "The Grasshopper Shrine at Cold Spring, Minnesota: Religion and Market Capitalism Among German-American Catholics," Catholic Historical Review 92:2 (April 2006), 215-243.

Mary K. Fredericksen, "The Grasshopper Wars," The Palimpsest 62:5 (1981), 150-161.

Cyrus C. Carpenter, "The Grasshopper Invasion," Annals of Iowa 4:6 (July 1900), 437-447.

Chuck Lyons, "The Year of the Locust," Wild West 24:6 (April 2012), 44-49.

Wiley Britton, "The Grasshopper Plague of 1866 in Kansas," Scientific Monthly 25:6 (December 1927), 540-545.

G. Prosper Zaleski, "The Grasshopper Plague," Scientific American 33:9 (Aug. 28, 1875), 132.

Thomas Hayden, "A Long-Ago Plague of Locusts," U.S. News & World Report 136:19 (May 31, 2004), 66.

Kathie Bell, "The Grasshopper Plague," Dodge City Daily Globe, April 15, 2019.

Lance Nixon, "Dakota Life: The Grasshopper and the Plow," [Topeka, Kan.] Capital Journal, Sept. 3, 2015.

Frank Lee, "Grasshopper Chapel Inspires Faith, Prayer," St. Cloud [Minn.] Times, Aug. 6, 2005, C.1.

"The Grasshopper Plague," New York Times, July 1, 1888.

"The Grasshopper Plague," New York Times, Dec. 29, 1876.

"The Bright Side of the Grasshopper Plague," New York Times, July 17, 1875.

"The Grasshopper Plague," New York Times, Aug. 10, 1874.

"The Locusts of the West," New York Times, July 14, 1874.

"The Grasshopper Plague," New York Times, July 14, 1874.

"The Grasshopper Plague," New York Times, July 10, 1874.

"The Grasshoppers," New York Times, July 10, 1874.

"A Plague of Grasshoppers," New York Times, June 22, 1874.

Matthew Garcia, "Melanoplus spretus: Rocky Mountain Locust," Animal Diversity Web (accessed Feb. 22, 2020).

R.L. Cartwright, "Grasshopper Plagues, 1873–1877," MNopedia, Nov. 17, 2011.

Listener mail:

"If you thinking about taking a NIGHT TRAIN in ITALY DON'T," Lonely Planet (accessed Feb. 14, 2020).

"Urgently Need Advice About Trenitalia Sleeper Trains," Tripadvisor (accessed Feb. 14, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Rick Steves" (accessed Feb. 14, 2020).

"About Rick Steves," Rick Steves' Europe (accessed Feb. 14, 2020).

"Sleeping on Trains," Rick Steves' Europe (accessed Feb. 14, 2020).

John Hooper, "'Sleeping Gas' Thieves Target Super-Rich at Italian Billionaires' Resort," Guardian, Aug. 30, 2011.

Wikipedia, "Jan Harold Brunvand" (accessed Feb. 14, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Urban Legend" (accessed Feb. 14, 2020).

Jan Harold Brunvand, The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings, 2003.

Andrew Noymer, "The Transmission and Persistence of 'Urban Legends': Sociological Application of Age-Structured Epidemic Models," Journal of Mathematical Sociology 25:3 (2001), 299-323.

Henry B. Dunn and Charlotte A. Allen, "Rumors, Urban Legends and Internet Hoaxes," Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Marketing Educators, 2005.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Frequently Asked Questions," March 21, 2018.

Mayo Clinic, "Carbon Monoxide Poisoning," Oct. 16, 2019.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Moxie LaBouche, who sent this corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Feb 24, 2020
284-The Red Barn
33:48

When Maria Marten disappeared from the English village of Polstead in 1827, her lover said that they had married and were living on the Isle of Wight. But Maria's stepmother began having disturbing dreams that hinted at a much grimmer fate. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Red Barn, which transfixed Britain in the early 19th century.

We'll also encounter an unfortunate copycat and puzzle over some curious births.

Intro:

In 1859, a penurious Henry Thoreau donated $5 to a college library.

Georges Perec rendered "Ozymandias" without the letter E.

Sources for our feature on the Red Barn:

James Curtis, The Murder of Maria Marten, 1828.

Shane McCorristine, William Corder and the Red Barn Murder: Journeys of the Criminal Body, 2014.

Lucy Worsley, The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock, 2014.

James Moore, Murder at the Inn: A History of Crime in Britain's Pubs and Hotels, 2015.

Colin Wilson, A Casebook of Murder, 2015.

Maryrose Cuskelly, Original Skin: Exploring the Marvels of the Human Hide, 2011.

Henry Vizetelly, The Romance of Crime, 1860.

"Trial of William Corder for the Murder of Maria Marten," Annual Register, 1828, 337-349.

James Redding Ware, Wonderful Dreams of Remarkable Men and Women, 1884.

Jessie Dobson, "The College Criminals: 4. William Corder," Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England 11:4 (1952), 249.

Richard Grady, "Personal Identity Established by the Teeth; the Dentist a Scientific Expert," American Journal of Dental Science 17:9 (1884), 385.

Harry Cocks, "The Pre-History of Print and Online Dating, c. 1690-1990," in I. Alev Degim, James Johnson, and Tao Fu, Online Courtship: Interpersonal Interactions Across Borders, 2015.

Sarah Tarlow, "Curious Afterlives: The Enduring Appeal of the Criminal Corpse," Mortality 21:3 (2016), 210–228.

Ruth Penfold-Mounce, "Consuming Criminal Corpses: Fascination With the Dead Criminal Body," Mortality 15:3 (August 2010), 250-265.

"The Trial of William Corder, for the Wilful Murder of Maria Marten, Etc.," 1828.

"The Trial, at Length, of William Corder, Convicted of the Murder of Maria Marten," 1828.

"An Accurate Account of the Trial of William Corder for the Murder of Maria Marten," 1828.

"The Trial of William Corder at the Assizes, Bury St. Edmunds," 1828.

"Dream Testimony," Notes & Queries 52, Dec. 27, 1856.

Paul Collins, "The Molecatcher's Daughter," Independent on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006, 20.

Peter Watson, "Alternatives: Natural Barn Killer," Guardian, Feb. 19, 1995, 23.

Jonathan Kay, "Lessons From a Molecatcher's Daughter," National Post, Jan. 9, 2007, A17.

Michael Horsnell, "Red Barn Murderer Finally Laid to Rest," Times, Aug. 18, 2004, 10.

Max Haines, "The Red Barn Murder," Sudbury [Ontario] Star, Aug. 16, 2003, D.11.

Maryrose Cuskelly, "Of Human Bondage," Australian, June 3, 2009, 18.

"Gruesome Murder Still Has the Power to Fascinate," East Anglian Daily Times, Oct. 28, 2013.

"True Crime From the 1820s: Shades of Capote," Weekend Edition Saturday, National Public Radio, Oct. 28, 2006.

Colin Wilson, "A Murder Mystery: Why Do Some Killings Dominate the Headlines?", Times, Jan. 28, 2006, 25.

Pamela Owen, "The Day Murder Became a National Obsession," The People, Sept. 22, 2013, 34.

Stephanie Markinson, "Dark History," Yorkshire Post, Jan. 10, 2020, 7.

"Collection Articles: The Trial, at Length, of William Corder, Convicted of the Murder of Maria Marten," British Library (accessed Feb. 2, 2020).

Alsager Richard Vian, "Corder, William," Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Vol. 12.

Alsager Vian, "Corder, William," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept. 23, 2004.

Listener mail:

Malcolm Gladwell, "Safety in the Skies," Gladwell.com, Oct. 1, 2001.

Hugh Morris, "The Strangest Stories From the Golden Age of Plane Hijacking," Telegraph, July 5, 2019.

Thom Patterson, "How the Era of 'Skyjackings' Changed the Way We Fly," CNN, Oct. 2, 2017.

"Three Cheeseburgers and a Rental Car," Fear of Landing, July 26, 2019.

Wikipedia, "D. B. Cooper" (accessed Feb. 4, 2020).

Joni Balter, "Attorney: Hijacker Couldn't Hurt Anyone," UPI, Jan. 21, 1983.

"Man Killed in Attempted Hijacking on Coast," UPI, Jan. 21, 1983.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by both Ronald Gainey and Chris Zinsli, based on an item they heard on the podcast 99% Invisible. Here are four additional corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Feb 17, 2020
283-The Hermit of Suwarrow
33:21

In 1952, New Zealander Tom Neale set out to establish a solitary life for himself on a remote island in the South Pacific. In all he would spend 17 years there, building a fulfilling life fending entirely for himself. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Neale's adventures on the island and his impressions of an isolated existence.

We'll also revisit Scunthorpe and puzzle over a boat's odd behavior.

Intro:

A 17th-century London handbill advertised the virtues of coffee.

In 1905 Mark Twain illustrated the full meaning of a prayer for military victory.

Sources for our feature on Tom Neale:

Tom Neale, An Island to Oneself: The Story of Six Years on a Desert Island, 1966.

Dom Degnon, Sails Full and By, 1995.

James C. Simmons, Castaway in Paradise: The Incredible Adventures of True-Life Robinson Crusoes, 1998.

Nataša Potocnik, "Robert Dean Frisbie -- An American Writer in the South Pacific," Acta Neophilologica 33:1-2 (2000), 93-105.

Joseph Bockrath, "Law on Remote Islands: The Convergence of Fact and Fiction," Legal Studies Forum 27 (2003), 21.

Alexey Turchin and Brian Patrick Green, "Islands as Refuges for Surviving Global Catastrophes," Foresight 21:1 (2019), 100-117.

Ella Morton, "The Self-Made Castaway Who Spent 16 Years on an Atoll With His Cats," Slate, Oct. 26, 2015.

Bette Thompson, "The Happy Exile," New York Times, Nov. 26, 1972.

Gerard Hindmarsh, "An Island to Oneself Revisited," Nelson [New Zealand] Mail, Dec. 15, 2018, 6.

"Book Mark," Niue News Update, Sept. 18, 2001.

Listener mail:

A photo taken by Derryl Murphy's grandfather of a ski plane at Fort Reliance, Northwest Territories.

Joel Tansey, "Looking Back at the Original Trapper, Golden's Premier Meeting Place," Golden [B.C.] Star, May 28, 2015.

Audrey Gillan, "Town Gets Stuck Into Semolina," Guardian, Oct. 27, 2006.

"Semolina Snowfall for Yarmouth," [Norwich, U.K.] Eastern Daily Press, Oct. 26, 2006.

"Sticky Problem of Semolina Spill," BBC News, Oct. 27, 2006.

Wikipedia, "Semolina" (accessed Jan. 31, 2020).

Mary Branscombe, "Lyft Is Having Its Scunthorpe Moment Because We Don't Learn From History," Twitter, Dec. 20, 2019.

Andrew J. Hawkins, "Lyft's Algorithm Is Trying to Block People With Names Like 'Dick,' 'Finger,' and 'Cummings,'" The Verge, Dec. 19, 2019.

Alyse Stanley, "Need a Lyft? Too Bad, Dick Assman," Gizmodo, Dec. 19, 2019.

Lisa Eadicicco, "Lyft Thought Some Users' Real Names Were Offensive Content. Candice Poon, Cara Dick, Mike Finger, and Others Were Ordered to Get New Names Within 2 Days," Business Insider, Dec. 19, 2019.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Patrick Steinkuhl, who sent these corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Feb 10, 2020
282-Helga Estby's Walk
33:14

In 1896, Norwegian immigrant Helga Estby faced the foreclosure of her family's Washington farm. To pay the debt she accepted a wager to walk across the United States within seven months. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow her daring bid to win the prize, and its surprising consequence.

We'll also toast Edgar Allan Poe and puzzle over a perplexing train.

Intro:

The Dutch and French words for kidney are reversals of one another.

In Japan, Douglas Adams encountered a new conception of persistence.

Sources for our feature on Helga Estby:

Linda Lawrence Hunt, Bold Spirit: Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America, 2007.

Margaret Riddle, "Estby, Helga (1860-1942)," HistoryLink, Sept. 23, 2011.

Stefanie Pettit, "Helga Estby a Walking Tale," Spokesman Review, July 9, 2015, S.8.

Pia Hallenberg Christensen, "Cross-Country Walk Inspires Women," [Spokane, Wash.] Spokesman Review, May 3, 2008, B.1.

Chris Rodkey, "Women Get No Mileage From Cross-Country Trek," Los Angeles Times, July 13, 2003, A.27.

Linda Duval, "The Forgotten Walk: Helga Estby's Hike Across America," [Colorado Springs, Colo.] Gazette, June 8, 2003, LIFE1.

Dan Webster, "A Feat Nearly Forgotten," [Spokane, Wash.] Spokesman Review, April 27, 2003, F1.

"Mrs. Helga Estby," Spokane Daily Chronicle, April 21, 1942.

"A $10,000 Walk," Saint Paul Globe, June 2, 1897, 3.

"From Spokane to New York," San Francisco Call 79:157 (May 5, 1896), 4.

Listener mail:

Ian Duncan, "New Poe Toaster Takes Up a Baltimore Tradition," Baltimore Sun, Jan. 17, 2016.

Keith Perry, "New Spate of Attacks by Sleeping Gas Gang, Caravanners Warned," Telegraph, Sept. 1, 2014.

Joel Gunter, "Jenson Button Robbery: Are French Burglars Really Using Has?", BBC News, Aug. 7, 2015.

Sarah Hilley, "Holiday Couple Gassed and Robbed," Swindon Advertiser, Aug. 15, 2007.

"Gassed When Wild Camping," Motor Home Fun, March 31, 2009.

"Travelling In France - Warning," Caravan Talk, Aug. 16, 2007.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Colin Sommers, who sent this corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jan 27, 2020
281-Grey Owl
31:03

In the 1930s the world's best-known conservationist was an ex-trapper named Grey Owl who wrote and lectured ardently for the preservation of the Canadian wilderness. At his death, though, it was discovered that he wasn't who he'd claimed to be. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of his curious history and complicated legacy.

We'll also learn how your father can be your uncle and puzzle over a duplicate record.

Intro:

Dutch engineer Theo Jansen builds sculptures that walk.

Helen Fouché Gaines' 1956 cryptanalysis textbook ends with a cipher that "nobody has ever been able to decrypt."

Sources for our feature on Grey Owl:

Donald B. Smith, From the Land of Shadows: The Making of Grey Owl, 2000.

Albert Braz, Apostate Englishman: Grey Owl the Writer and the Myths, 2015.

Jane Billinghurst, Grey Owl: The Many Faces of Archie Belaney, 1999.

Allison Mitcham, Grey Owl's Favorite Wilderness Revisited, 1991.

Lovat Dickson, Wilderness Man: The Strange Story of Grey Owl, 1973.

Anahareo, Devil in Deerskins: My Life With Grey Owl, 1972.

James Polk, Wilderness Writers, 1972.

Brian Bethune, "Truth and Consequences," Maclean's 112:40 (Oct. 4, 1999), 58.

Kenneth Brower, "Grey Owl," Atlantic 265:1 (January 1990), 74-84.

Trent Frayne, "Grey Owl the Magnificent Fraud," Maclean's 64 (Aug. 1, 1951), 14-16, 37-39.

Dane Lanken, "The Vision of Grey Owl," Canadian Geographic 119:2 (March/April 1999), 74-80.

Fenn Stewart, "Grey Owl in the White Settler Wilderness: 'Imaginary Indians' in Canadian Culture and Law," Law, Culture and the Humanities 14:1 (Oct. 8, 2014), 161-181.

Kevin Young, "Cowboys & Aliens," Kenyon Review 39:6 (November/December 2017), 10-32.

David Chapin, "Gender and Indian Masquerade in the Life of Grey Owl," American Indian Quarterly 24:1 (Winter 2000), 91-109.

John Hayman, "Grey Owl's Wild Goose Chase," History Today 44:1 (January 1994), 42.

Mark Collin Reid, "Grey Owl," Canada's History 95:5 (October/November 2015), 14-15.

Donald B. Smith, "Belaney, Archibald Stansfeld [called Grey Owl]," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept. 23, 2004.

Donald B. Smith, "Belaney, Archibald Stansfeld, Known as Grey Owl and Wa-sha-quon-asin," in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. 16, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003 (accessed Jan. 5, 2020).

Donald B. Smith, "Archibald Belaney, Grey Owl," The Canadian Encyclopedia, June 17, 2008 (accessed Jan. 5, 2020).

Susan Griffith, "Grey Owl: Champion of the Canadian Wilderness," Independent, Nov. 12, 2015.

Jane Onyanga-Omara, "Grey Owl: Canada's Great Conservationist and Imposter," BBC News, Sept. 19, 2013.

James H. Marsh, "Grey Owl's Great Deception," CanWest News, Sept. 17, 2003, 1.

Tony Lofaro, "Why I Kept Grey Owl's Secret," Ottawa Citizen, Sept. 21, 1999, D3.

Peter Unwin, "The Fabulations of Grey Owl," The Beaver 79:2 (April 1999), 13-19.

Henrietta Smyth, "Grey Owl Returns to England," North Bay [Ont.] Nugget, April 3, 1999, B1.

"Grey Owl," New York Times, April 17, 1938.

"Service Honors Grey Owl," New York Times, April 16, 1938.

"Grey Owl, Worker for Conservation," New York Times, April 14, 1938.

"Doctor and Nurse to Beavers in Canada Is Indian Grey Owl," New York Times, June 24, 1934.

"Do You Know?", Roanoke Rapids [N.C.] Herald, Nov. 24, 1932, 2.

Listener mail:

Roger Schlueter, "Getting a Bone Marrow Transplant Could Give You New DNA, Too," Belleville [Ill.] News-Democrat, Jan. 16, 2018.

"She's Her Own Twin," ABC News, Aug. 15, 2006.

Wikipedia, "Lydia Fairchild" (accessed Jan. 8, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Chimera (Genetics)" (accessed Jan. 9, 2020).

Jessica Richardson, "Man Fails Paternity Test Due to Passing on Unborn Twin's DNA," BioNews, Nov. 2, 2015.

Alice Park, "How a Man's Unborn Twin Fathered His Child," Time, Oct. 28, 2015.

Heather Murphy, "When a DNA Test Says You're a Younger Man, Who Lives 5,000 Miles Away," New York Times, Dec. 7, 2019.

Heather Murphy, "The Case of a Man With Two Sets of DNA Raises More Questions," New York Times, Dec. 12, 2019.

Carl Zimmer, "In the Marmoset Family, Things Really Do Appear to Be All Relative," New York Times, March 27, 2007.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Paul Kapp.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jan 20, 2020
280-Leaving St. Kilda
32:59

1930 saw the quiet conclusion of a remarkable era. The tiny population of St. Kilda, an isolated Scottish archipelago, decided to end their thousand-year tenure as the most remote community in Britain and move to the mainland. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the remarkable life they'd shared on the island and the reasons they chose to leave.

We'll also track a stork to Sudan and puzzle over the uses of tea trays.

Intro:

Reportedly the 3rd Earl of Darnley believed he was a teapot.

Henry Hudson's journal records a 1610 encounter with a mermaid.

Sources for our feature on St. Kilda:

Charles MacLean, Island on the Edge of the World: The Story of St Kilda, 1972.

Tom Steel, The Life and Death of St. Kilda: The Moving Story of a Vanished Island Community, 2011.

Andrew Fleming, St Kilda and the Wider World: Tales of an Iconic Island, 2005.

Alexander Buchan, A Description of St. Kilda, The Most Remote Western Isle of Scotland, 1741.

Martin Martin, A Voyage to St. Kilda, 1749.

George Seton, St Kilda Past and Present, 1878.

Alastair Gray, A History of Scotland, 1989.

John Macculloch, A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, 1819.

Fraser MacDonald, "St Kilda and the Sublime," Ecumene 8:2 (2001), 151-174.

L.F. Powell, "The History of St. Kilda," Review of English Studies 16:61 (January 1940), 44-53.

"St. Kilda," British Medical Journal 1:2683 (June 1, 1912), 1249-1251.

"St. Kilda," British Medical Journal 2:3418 (July 10, 1926), 80-81.

Fergus McIntosh, "A Trip to St. Kilda, Scotland's Lost Utopia in the Sea," New Yorker, Dec. 3, 2017.

Alison Campsie, "New Images Throw Light on a St Kilda Fit for the 21st Century," Scotsman, Oct. 8, 2018, 24.

Roger Cox, "Deserted Streets, Sea Cliffs and Stark Military Towers Show Real St Kilda in Black and White," Scotsman, May 26, 2018, 58.

Neel Mukherjee, "A Veritable No Man's Land, Off the Coast of Scotland," New York Times, May 7, 2018.

Alison Campsie, "What It's Like Living on St Kilda," Scotsman, Feb. 21, 2018.

"'End of an Era': Last Native of Remote Island St Kilda Dies," [London] Express, April 7, 2016.

Gabriella Swerlingwrites, "St Kilda: Islands That Were Not So Remote After All," Times, Nov. 3, 2015, 5.

"Norman John Gillies: Obituaries," Daily Telegraph, Oct. 3, 2013, 35.

Steven McKenzie, "The New Residents of St Kilda Archipelago," BBC News, Aug. 29, 2010.

"Eighty Years Ago St Kilda Was Evacuated. Today One of Only Two Survivors Remembers Leaving the Islands," Scotsman, Aug. 11, 2010.

Charlie English, "St Kilda: The Edge of the World," Guardian, Aug. 28, 2009.

Nigel Johnson, "St. Kilda Tells of Lonely, Difficult Existence," Winnipeg Free Press, June 10, 2006, E.6.

Nigel Richardson, "Revisiting the Margin of the World," National Post, Aug. 21, 1999, B12.

Edmund Antrobus, "St. Kilda, the Enigma Out to Sea," [Bergen County, N.J.] Record, Aug. 15, 1999.

"Return to St Kilda," Glasgow Herald, March 18, 1987.

"Island to Be Abandoned," New York Times, July 30, 1930.

"St. Kilda," London Graphic, Nov. 14, 1885.

"St Kilda," Caledonian Mercury, Sept. 1, 1834.

"Stories from St Kilda," National Records of Scotland (accessed Dec. 29, 2019).

Listener mail:

"Polish Charity Gets Huge Phone Bill Thanks to Stork," BBC News, June 28, 2018.

"Polish Stork Vanishes From GPS but Delivers Huge Phone Bill," AP News, June 29, 2018.

Iain Thomson, "What a Flap: SIM Swiped From Slain Stork's GPS Tracker Used to Rack Up $2,700 Phone Bill," The Register, July 3, 2018.

Helena Horton, "Palmerston, the Foreign Office Cat, Returns to Work After Six Months Off for Stress," Telegraph, Dec. 2, 2019.

Megan Baynes, "Foreign Office Cat Palmerston Returns to Work After Six Months Off With Stress," London Press Association, Dec. 3, 2019.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Miriam Fewtrell, based on a fact she read in Leonard Mosley's 1974 book The Reich Marshal: A Biography of Hermann Goering.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jan 13, 2020
279-The Champawat Tiger
34:08

At the turn of the 20th century, a rogue tiger terrorized the villages of Nepal and northern India. By the time British hunter Jim Corbett was called in, it had killed 434 people. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Corbett's pursuit of the elusive cat, and his enlightened efforts to address the source of the problem.

We'll also revisit a Confederate spy and puzzle over a bloody ship.

Intro:

Ralph Beaman devised a sentence that ends with 15 prepositions.

The stones of Pennsylvania's Ringing Rocks Park chime when struck.

Sources for our feature on the Champawat tiger:

Jim Corbett, Man-Eaters of Kumaon, 1944.

Dane Huckelbridge, No Beast So Fierce: The Terrifying True Story of the Champawat Tiger, the Deadliest Man-Eater in History, 2019.

Hemanta Mishra, Bones of the Tiger: Protecting the Man-Eaters of Nepal, 2010.

Nayanika Mathur, Paper Tiger, 2016.

Sujeet Kumar Singh, et al., "Understanding Human–Tiger Conflict Around Corbett Tiger Reserve India: A Case Study Using Forensic Genetics," Wildlife Biology in Practice 11:1 (June 2015), 1-11.

Iti Roychowdhury, "Man Eaters and the Eaten Men: A Study of the Portrayal of Indians in the Writings of Jim Corbett," Research Journal of English Language and Literature 5:1 (January-March 2017), 37-41.

A.J.T. Johnsingh, "Status and Conservation of the Tiger in Uttaranchal, Northern India," AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 35:3 (May 2006), 135-137.

Jim Doherty, "Tigers at the Gate," Smithsonian 32:10 (January 2002), 66-67.

Sarah Zielinski, "How a Tiger Transforms Into a Man-Eater," Science News, March 19, 2019.

Adele Conover, "The Object at Hand," Smithsonian 26:8 (November 1995), 28.

"Jim Corbett Dies; Big-Game Hunter; Told of His Exploits Against Indian Killer Tigers in 'Man-Eaters of Kumaon,'" New York Times, April 21, 1955.

"Champawat Residents Remember Jim Corbett on Birth Anniversary," Hindustan Times, July 26, 2017.

"The Remarkable Legacy of Tiger Jim," Independent, Nov. 1, 2007, 38.

Michael T. Kaufman, "Tiger, Protected From Man, Flourishes Again in India; The Tiger, Protected, Prospers in India Tiger Cubs Live Longer A Special Counting Method," New York Times, Sept. 16, 1980.

Christine Hauser, "Number of Tigers in the Wild Is Rising, Wildlife Groups Say," New York Times, April 11, 2016.

"A Hunter Who Went on to Save the Hunted," The Hindu, Nov. 10, 2018.

"Remembering Corbett! A Legend, Man of Many Parts," [New Delhi] Pioneer, July 26, 2015.

"The Tiger Hunter Who Earned His Stripes," Sunday Telegraph, Oct. 13, 2019, 16.

Vineet Upadhyay, "Jim Corbett's 100-Yr-Old Rifle Returns Home to His Village," Economic Times, April 6, 2016.

Dane Huckelbridge, "How to Ensure Tigers Come Roaring Back," Globe and Mail, Feb. 9, 2019, O.5.

D.B.N. Murthy, "It Is Jim Corbett's Country," Alive 365 (March 2013), 48-50.

Gregory Crouch, "'No Beast So Fierce' Review: The Making of a Killer," Wall Street Journal, Feb. 4, 2019.

R. Raj Rao, "'No Beast So Fierce: The Champawat Tiger and Her Hunter, the First Tiger Conservationist' by Dane Huckelbridge: In the Forests of the Night," The Hindu, May 11, 2019.

Bill Purves, "History's Deadliest Single Animal? Story of the Killer Indian Tiger and the Man Who Hunted It Down Detailed in New Book," South China Morning Post, March 6, 2019.

Listener mail:

The Patreon posts mentioned in the listener mail segment are "Greenhow Misgivings" (discussing the problem) and "Followup to 'Greenhow Misgivings'" (describing the measures we took).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Steven Jones.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jan 06, 2020
278-Lateral Thinking Puzzles
29:58

Here are six new lateral thinking puzzles -- play along with us as we try to untangle some perplexing situations using yes-or-no questions.

Intro:

Ixonia, Wisconsin, was named at random.

Ben Franklin harnessed the power of long-term interest to make large gifts to Boston and Philadelphia.

The sources for this week's puzzles are below. In two places we've included links to further information -- these contain spoilers, so don't click until you've listened to the episode:

Puzzle #1 is from listener Gabriel Bizcarra.

Puzzle #2 is adapted from Paul Sloane and Des MacHale's 2014 book Remarkable Lateral Thinking Puzzles.

Puzzle #3 is from Greg.

Puzzle #4 is from listener Peter Quinn.

Puzzle #5 is from Greg. Here are two links.

Puzzle #6 is from Sharon. Two links.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Dec 30, 2019
277-The Mad Trapper of Rat River
33:12

In the winter of 1931, a dramatic manhunt unfolded in northern Canada when a reclusive trapper shot a constable and fled across the frigid landscape. In the chase that followed the mysterious fugitive amazed his pursuers with his almost superhuman abilities. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the hunt for the "Mad Trapper of Rat River."

We'll also visit a forgotten windbreak and puzzle over a father's age.

Intro:

Korean soldier Yang Kyoungjong was conscripted successively by Japan, the Soviet Union, and Germany.

In 1978, Arnold Rosenberg examined idioms to trace a path to the most incomprehensible natural language.

RCMP constable Alfred King is at far left in the photo; constable Edgar Millen is second from right. Sources for our feature on Albert Johnson:

Dick North, Mad Trapper of Rat River: A True Story of Canada's Biggest Manhunt, 2005.

Barbara Smith, The Mad Trapper: Unearthing a Mystery, 2011.

Richard C. Davis, "The Mad Trapper, by Rudy Wiebe," Arctic 35:2 (1982), 342.

Leslie McCartney, "'You Need to Tell That True Albert Johnson Story Like We Know It': Meanings Embedded in the Gwich'in Version of the Albert Johnson Story," Canadian Journal of Native Studies 37:1 (2017), 201-235.

"Who Was the Mad Trapper of Rat River?", Forensic Magazine, June 6, 2018.

"Lawbreakers: More Hustlers, Rustlers and Wild Men," Canada's History 96:2 (April/May 2016).

Jay Merrett, "Caught by the Mad Trapper," Canada's History 93:1 (February/March 2013).

Bob Butz, "Bad Guys Gone 'Wild,'" Outdoor Life 213:6 (June/July 2006), 19.

Alan Phillips, "Who Was the Mad Trapper of Rat River?", Maclean's, Oct. 1, 1955.

Barbara Roden, "The Mad Trapper Part 4: The Quest to Identify Albert Johnson Begins," [Ashcroft, B.C.] Journal, Sept. 17, 2019.

Barbara Roden, "Golden Country: The Mad Trapper Part 5," [Ashcroft, B.C.] Journal, Oct. 3, 2019.

Marc Montgomery, "Canada History: Feb 17, 1932: The End and Beginning of the Mystery of the Mad Trapper," Radio Canada International, Feb. 17, 2017.

Michael Gates, "Dick North: Farewell to Yukon's Great Storyteller," Yukon News, Oct. 4, 2013.

"Hunt for the Mad Trapper -- The Story Ends," [Swan Hills, Alberta] Grizzly Gazette, March 13, 2012, 5.

"Hunt for the Mad Trapper," [Swan Hills, Alberta] Grizzly Gazette, Jan. 10, 2012, 4.

Josh Wingrove, "Feb. 17, 1932 / Mounties Get the Mad Trapper," Globe and Mail, Feb. 17, 2011, A.2.

Joe McWilliams, "Mad Trapper Story Still Fascinates," [High Prairie, Alberta] South Peace News, Dec. 15, 2010, 6.

Darah Hansen, "Tooth Enamel Reveals Mad Trapper No Canadian," Edmonton Journal, May 23, 2009, A.5.

James Adams, "DNA Tests Prove Mad Trapper Still a Mystery," Globe and Mail, May 13, 2009, R.1.

"Mad Trapper Not a Canadian, Scientific Tests Discover," CBC News, Feb. 20, 2009.

Jeff Holubitsky, "Fugitive Could Live All Winter in Deep Bush, Outfitter Says," Edmonton Journal, Oct. 10, 2007, A18.

Erin Hitchcock, "The Mad Trapper, Unmasked," [New Westminster, B.C.] Record, Sept. 15, 2007, 3.

"Trapper Almost Evades Capture," Guelph Mercury, Aug. 16, 2007, A6.

"Filmmakers Exhume Mad Trapper's Body," Nanaimo [B.C] Daily News, Aug. 15, 2007, A2.

Keith Bonnell, "Mystery of 'Mad Trapper' Nearly Solved," Vancouver Sun, Aug. 15, 2007, C10.

"Mad Trapper's Remains Surface in Historic Dig," CBC News, Aug 13, 2007.

Katherine Harding, "Hunt for the Mad Trapper Is Back On," Globe and Mail, May 29, 2007, A.3.

"Remains of Mad Trapper of Rat River Could Finally Lead to Identification," [Prince Rupert, B.C.] Daily News, May 7, 2007, 11.

"Mad Trapper Mystery May Finally Be Solved," Winnipeg Free Press, May 5, 2007, A.13.

Ian Mcinroy, "Tracker of Mad Trapper Remembered," [Barrie, Ontario] Examiner, Jan. 13, 2006, A3.

Tom Hawthorn, "He Hunted the Mad Trapper," Globe and Mail, March 15, 2003, F.11.

Bob Gilmour, "Frontiersmen Pay Tribute to Trapper's Victim," Edmonton Journal, Sept. 28, 1997, A.10.

Kerry Powell, "Glory Days; Mad Trapper's Nemesis; Signal Success," Edmonton Journal, Aug. 6, 1995, B.3.

"Group to Retrace Mad Trapper Route," Hamilton Spectator, March 5, 1994, A8.

Rudy Wiebe, "Trapper Identification Fails to Convince Author," Edmonton Journal, Sept. 2, 1989, E6.

Garth Hopkins, "Sequel to The Mad Trapper of Rat River Fascinating Piece of Work," Vancouver Sun, July 29, 1989, D4.

Alan Hustak, "a.k.a. the Mad Trapper," [Montreal] Gazette, May 13, 1989, K12.

Lynne Van Luven, "Hobby-Turned-Obsession Led to Mad Trapper Solution," Edmonton Journal, May 13, 1989, D3.

"Hunt Resumes for Elusive Mad Trapper," Ottawa Citizen, May 9, 1987, H15.

"Mad Trapper Film Sparks Furor," Globe and Mail, April 2, 1980, P.16.

"Royal Police Get Insane Trapper -- Dead," Las Vegas Age, Feb. 18, 1932, 1.

"A Most Bizarre Case: The Mad Trapper of Rat River," Whitehorse Star, Feb. 17, 1932.

"Mad Trapper Eludes Cops," Las Vegas Age, Feb. 10, 1932, 1.

"Plane Nears Aklavik in Hunt for Trapper," [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, Feb. 5, 1932, C-5.

"Canadian Trapper Slays Policeman," Bismarck Tribune, Feb. 1, 1932, 2.

"'Mad Hermit' Flees Canadian Police," [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, Jan. 27, 1932, A-7.

"10 Men Off to Take Barricaded Trapper," [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, Jan. 20, 1932, B-5.

"Canadian Trapper Has Defied Police," Bismarck Tribune, Jan. 14, 1932, 1.

"Arctic Trapper Defies Officers," [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, Jan. 14, 1932, A-16.

"Constable Millen's Cairn Territorial Historic Site," Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre (accessed Dec. 1, 2019).

Edward Butts, "Albert Johnson, 'The Mad Trapper of Rat River,'" Canadian Encyclopedia, Jan. 22, 2008.

Leslie McCartney, "That Albert Johnson Story: Aboriginal Oral History Inclusion in Canadian Archives," First Nations, First Thoughts Conference, University of Edinburgh, May 2005.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Anna Sorokin," (accessed Dec. 4, 2019).

"A Fake Heiress Bilked NYC Socialites for Years. Then the Elaborate Hoax Unraveled," CBS News, March 27, 2019.

Emily Palmer, "A Fake Heiress Called Anna Delvey Conned the City's Wealthy. 'I'm Not Sorry,' She Says," New York Times, May 10, 2019.

"Anna Sorokin: Fake Heiress Apologises as She Is Sentenced," BBC News, May 9, 2019.

Jonathan Allen, "Fake Heiress Who Dazzled New York Elite Gets 4 to 12 Years for Fraud," Reuters, May 9, 2019.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Dust Bowl," Dec. 12, 2019.

"Dust Bowl," History.com, March 14, 2019.

Adam Wernick, "Trees That Helped Save America's Farms During the Dust Bowl Are Now Under Threat," Public Radio International, Feb. 3, 2018.

Wikipedia, "Great Plains Shelterbelt" (accessed Dec. 2, 2019).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Paul Bigler. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Dec 16, 2019
276-An Unlikely Confederate Spy
30:00

As the Civil War fractured Washington D.C., socialite Rose O'Neal Greenhow coordinated a vital spy ring to funnel information to her beloved Confederates. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Greenhow's courage and resourcefulness, which won praise from Jefferson Davis and notoriety in the North.

We'll also fragment the queen's birthday and puzzle over a paid game of pinball.

Intro:

German officer Ernst Jünger likened the sounds of World War I shelling to "being menaced by a man swinging a heavy hammer."

Bowdoin College compiled a list of odd how-to titles.

Sources for our feature on Rose O'Neal Greenhow:

Ann Blackman, Wild Rose: Rose O'Neale Greenhow, Civil War Spy, 2006.

Ishbel Ross, Rebel Rose: Life of Rose O'Neal Greenhow, Confederate Spy, 1954.

Karen Abbott, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War, 2014.

Rose O'Neal Greenhow, My Imprisonment and the First Year of Abolition Rule at Washington, 1863.

H. Donald Winkler, Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War, 2010.

Michael J. Sulick, Spying in America: Espionage from the Revolutionary War to the Dawn of the Cold War, 2014.

Allan Pinkerton, The Spy of the Rebellion, 1886.

John Bakeless, Spies of the Confederacy, 2011.

Ernest B. Furgurson, "The End of Illusions," Smithsonian 42:4 (July/August 2011), 56-64.

Jack Finnegan, "Professional Results for an Amateur," Military History, suppl. "Spies and Secret Missions: A History of American Espionage" (2002), 34-35.

Nancy B. Samuelson, "Employment of Female Spies in the American Civil War," Minerva 7:3 (Dec. 31, 1989), 57.

"Seized Correspondence of Rose O'Neal Greenhow," U.S. National Archives (accessed Nov. 24, 2019).

Rose O'Neal Greenhow Papers, Special Collections Library, Duke University.

"The Wild Rose of Washington," New York Times, Aug. 22, 2011.

"Spy Loved, Died in Line of Duty," [Wilmington, N.C] Morning Star, Dec. 31, 1999, 23.

"Civil War Day by Day," Washington [D.C.] Herald, Sept. 30, 1914, 4.

"Fair Southern Spies," [Savannah, Ga.] Morning News, Sept. 29, 1896, 5.

"Blockade Running," [Winston, N.C.] Western Sentinel, Jan. 14, 1886.

"A Rich New Year's Gift," Yorkville [S.C.] Enquirer, Feb. 6, 1862, 1.

"The Female Traitors in Washington," New York Herald, Jan. 22, 1862, 2.

"Mrs. Greenhow's Indignant Letter to Mr. Seward," New York Herald, Dec. 16, 1861, 4.

Phyllis F. Field, "Greenhow, Rose O'Neal," American National Biography, February 2000.

Listener mail:

"Public Holidays in Western Australia," Government of Western Australia Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (accessed Nov. 27, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Oscar Wilde" (accessed Nov. 27, 2019).

Howard Markel, "No, Oscar Wilde Probably Didn't Die of Syphilis," PBS NewsHour, Nov. 30, 2015.

Jon Henley, "Wilde Gets Revenge on Wallpaper," Guardian, Dec. 1, 2000.

"What Are the Best Last Words Ever?", Atlantic 317:4 (April 2016), 13.

"Grand Lakes St. Marys Educational Series: History of GLSM What You Don't Know," Lake Improvement Association (accessed Nov. 30, 2019).

"Grand Lake St. Marys State Park: History," Ohio State Parks and Watercraft (accessed Nov. 30, 2019).

Lew Powell, "Behind the Lines, Fighting Malaria With Whiskey," North Carolina Miscellany, July 10, 2011.

Wikipedia, "Gin and Tonic" (accessed Nov. 30, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Tonic Water" (accessed Nov. 30, 2019).

"'The Book of Gin' Distills a Spirited History," Morning Edition, National Public Radio, Dec. 28, 2012.

Kal Raustiala, "The Imperial Cocktail," Slate, Aug. 28, 2013.

"The Largest Human-Made Lakes in the World," WorldAtlas (accessed Nov. 30, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Lake Kariba" (accessed Nov. 30, 2019).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was inspired by an item heard on the podcast No Such Thing as a Fish. Here are two corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Dec 09, 2019
275-A Kidnapped Painting
30:28

In 1961, Goya's famous portrait of the Duke of Wellington went missing from London's National Gallery. The case went unsolved for four years before someone unexpectedly came forward to confess to the heist. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe one of the greatest art thefts in British history and the surprising twists that followed.

We'll also discover Seward's real folly and puzzle over a man's motherhood.

Intro:

One of the desks on the U.S. Senate floor is full of candy.

Astronaut John Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich into space.

The following list of "Sasha Spottings" comes from Brandi Sweet, caretaker of Bella, Ojo, Schatzi, Babu, and Atte:

Episode 9
Episode 46
Episode 63
Episode 114
Episode 139
Episode 144
Episode 146 ("mentioned as purring but I couldn't hear her")
Episode 148
Episode 156
Episode 164
Episode 168
Episode 173
Episode 183
Episode 201
Episode 207
Episode 215

Sources for our feature on Kempton Bunton and Goya's Portrait of the Duke of Wellington:

Alan Hirsch, The Duke of Wellington, Kidnapped!, 2016.

Simon Mackenzie, "Criminal and Victim Profiles in Art Theft: Motive, Opportunity and Repeat Victimisation," Art Antiquity and Law 10:4 (November 2005), 353-370.

Melvin E. DeGraw, "Art Theft in Perspective," International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 31:1 (1987), 1-10.

Richard LeBlanc, "Thief-Proofing Our Art Museums: Security Expensive? ... Not the Morning After," UNESCO Courier 18:10 (November 1965), 4-6, 10-17

"Hugh Courts' Papers Relating to the Trial of Kempton Bunton," National Gallery (accessed Nov. 17, 2019).

"The National Gallery: The Missing Masterpiece," Royal Society (accessed Nov. 17, 2019).

James Whitfield, "The Duke Disappears" History Today 61:8 (August 2011), 43-49.

"Thefts From Museums," Burlington Magazine 109:767 (February 1967), 55-56.

Noah Charney, "The Wackiest Art Heist Ever," Salon, Nov. 15, 2015.

"Spectre of Goya: Letters to the Editor," Times, Oct. 31, 2019, 28.

"'The Thieves Vanished Into the Rio Carnival Crowds' - The 10 Most Audacious Art Heists in History," Telegraph.co.uk, Jan. 26, 2018.

Adrian Lee, "Britain's Most Bizarre Art Heist," Daily Express, April 16, 2016, 37.

Alan Travis, "Revealed: 1961 Goya 'Theft' From National Gallery Was a Family Affair," Guardian, Nov. 30, 2012.

"A Blizzard and a Blaze," [Newcastle-upon-Tyne] Evening Chronicle, Dec. 31, 2011, 10.

Noah Charney, "Art Thieves No Longer Oddballs," [Christchurch, New Zealand] Press, Sept. 2, 2011.

Sandy Nairne, "From National Gallery to Dr No's lair," Guardian, Aug. 6, 2011, 14.

Sandy Nairne, "How Goya's Duke of Wellington Was Stolen," Guardian, Aug. 5, 2011.

"Hero or Villain?: Geordie's Bizarre Crime of Conscience," [Newcastle-upon-Tyne] Evening Chronicle, June 30, 2010, 10.

David Lee, "It's a Steal: Why Art Remains a Favourite Among Thieves," Times, May 22, 2010, 21.

Chris Cobb, "Stolen Masterpieces," Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 11, 2009, B.1.

"Goya Thief Sent for Trial," Times, Aug. 18, 2001, 25.

Peter Lennon and Edward Pilkington, "Files Reveal Innocent Man Was Jailed for Stealing Goya Painting From the National Gallery in 1961," Guardian, Jan. 13, 1996, 3.

Paul Hoffman, "Psst! Wanna Buy a Hot Rembrandt?", New York Times, June 1, 1975.

"Stolen Wellington by Goya Rehung in London Gallery," New York Times, Jan. 12, 1966.

W. Granger Blair, "Briton Acquitted of Stealing Goya; But Admitted Thief Is Guilty of Taking the Frame," New York Times, Nov. 17, 1965.

Clyde H. Farnsworth, "Ransom Asked for Goya Stolen in '61," New York Times, Dec. 31, 1964.

"Work Said to Be Uninsured," New York Times, Feb. 18, 1964.

"'No Questions' Deal Is Offered for Goya," New York Times, Jan. 8, 1964.

"Scotland Yard to Examine Alleged Ashes of Painting," New York Times, Jan. 2, 1964.

"Greatest Heists in Art History," BBC News, Aug. 23, 2004.

"Portrait of the Duke of Wellington," Paintings in Movies (accessed 11/17/2019).

Jillian Elizabeth Seaton, "Touching the Void: The Museological Implications of Theft on Public Art Collections," dissertation, University of Edinburgh, 2014.

County Cork's Algiers Inn, from listener Ken Murphy.

Listener mail:

The Algiers Inn.

Barry Roche, "Pirate Raid That Stunned Nation," Sun, Jan. 10, 2003, 8.

Wikipedia, "Alaska Purchase" (accessed Nov. 22, 2019).

Jesse Greenspan, "Why the Purchase of Alaska Was Far From 'Folly,'" History.com, March 30, 2017.

"Purchase of Alaska, 1867," Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State (accessed Nov. 22, 2019).

"History of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security of the United States Department of State," U.S. Department of State, October 2011 (page xxiii).

Ralph E. Weber, "Seward's Other Folly: America's First Encrypted Cable," Studies in Intelligence 36 (1992), 105-109.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Jesse Schlaud.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Dec 02, 2019
274-Death in a Nutshell
29:46

In the 1940s, Frances Glessner Lee brought new rigor to crime scene analysis with a curiously quaint tool: She designed 20 miniature scenes of puzzling deaths and challenged her students to investigate them analytically. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death and their importance to modern investigations.

We'll also appreciate an overlooked sled dog and puzzle over a shrunken state.

Intro:

In a lecture at Cornell, Vladimir Nabokov considered Gregor Samsa's new species.

Siren Elise Wilhelmsen taught a clock to knit a scarf.

Flickr and the Smithsonian American Art Museum have image galleries of Frances Glessner Lee's nutshell studies. Sources for our story:

Corinne May Botz, The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, 2004.

Frances Glessner Lee, "Legal Medicine at Harvard University," Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science 42:5 (January-February 1952), 674-678.

M. Uebel, "Corpus Delicti: Frances Glessner Lee and the Art of Suspicion," Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences 27:2 (2018), 124-126.

Jacquelyn A.D. Jones, "The Value and Potential of Forensic Models," Forensics Journal 8 (2017), 58-65.

Katherine Ramsland, "The Truth in a Nutshell," Forensic Examiner 17:2 (2008), 1620.

"Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death," Forensic Magazine, Sept. 8, 2017.

Jimmy Stamp, "How a Chicago Heiress Trained Homicide Detectives With an Unusual Tool: Dollhouses," Smithsonian.com, March 6, 2014.

Sarah Zhang, "How a Gilded-Age Heiress Became the 'Mother of Forensic Science,'" Atlantic, Oct. 14, 2017.

Nicole Cooley, "Death and Feminism in a Nutshell," Paris Review, Feb. 5, 2018.

Nigel Richardson, "Murder She Built," Telegraph Magazine, Jan. 31, 2015, 36.

Catherine Nixey, "Who Shot Barbie?", Times, Nov. 10, 2014, 9.

Jessica Snyder Sachs, "Welcome to the Dollhouses of Death," Popular Science 262:5 (May 2003), 38.

William L. Hamilton, "Heiress Plotted 19 Grisly Crimes. Investigation Underway," New York Times, Jan. 10, 2018.

Ariella Budick, "Bring Up the Bodies: Dioramas," Financial Times, Dec. 30, 2017, 14.

"The Art of Murder: Miniature Dioramas of Unexplained Deaths – In Pictures," Guardian, Oct. 27, 2017.

Maura Judkis, "Homicide Sweet Homicide," Washington Post, Oct. 27, 2017, T19.

"These Miniature Murder Scenes Have Shown Detectives How to Study Homicides for 70 Years," Washington Post, Sept. 17, 2017, A.24.

Chris Hewitt, "Crime-Scene Replicas Still Have Tale to Tell in Minneapolis Filmmaker's Documentary," Saint Paul Pioneer Press, March 18, 2013.

Michael Sragow, "Murder in a Nutshell," Baltimore Sun, June 3, 2012, E.1.

"Visible Proofs: Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death," New York Times, May 11, 2009.

Amanda Schaffer, "Solving Puzzles With Body Parts as the Pieces," New York Times, Feb. 28, 2006.

Robert Gottlieb, "True Story of Elderly Heiress Who Designed Dioramas of Death," New York Observer, Jan. 24, 2005, 21.

Robin Summerfield, "Crime in a Nutshell," Calgary Herald, Jan. 1, 2005, G9.

Jennifer Schuessler, "Murder in the Dollhouse," Boston Globe, Oct. 24, 2004, E.2.

John Woestendiek, "Murder in Miniature," Baltimore Sun, Oct. 14, 2004, 1E.

Eve Kahn, "Murder Downsized," New York Times, Oct. 7, 2004, F.1.

"Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death," Smithsonian American Art Museum (accessed Nov. 10, 2019).

"Dollhouse Crime Scenes," CBS Sunday Morning, Jan. 14, 2018.

Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi, "The Tiny, Murderous World of Frances Glessner Lee," All Things Considered, National Public Radio, Nov. 18, 2017.

Alison Thoet, "Photos: These Gruesome Dollhouse Death Scenes Reinvented Murder Investigations," PBS NewsHour, Nov. 20, 2017.

Ann Marie Menting, "Death in a Nutshell," Harvard Medical School, Sept. 18, 2017.

Corinne May Botz, "The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death" (accessed Nov. 10, 2019).

Gabrielle Alberts, "This Is Where I Leave You: Unsettling Realities of a Miniature," dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2013.

Ferdinand Demara as "Hospital Doctor" in The Hypnotic Eye (1960). Sources for our listener mail segment:

Wikipedia, "Ferdinand Waldo Demara: Films/TV" (accessed Nov. 13, 2019).

IMDb, "The Hypnotic Eye" (accessed Nov. 13, 2019).

IMDb, "Fred Demara: Biography" (accessed Nov. 16, 2019).

Wikipedia, "M*A*S*H (TV series)" (accessed Nov. 13, 2019).

"Captain Adam Casey," The Monster M*A*S*H Wiki (accessed Nov. 13, 2019).

"Dear Dad ... Again (TV series episode)," The Monster M*A*S*H Wiki (accessed Nov. 13, 2019).

Brendan Michael, "Check Out Willem Dafoe Mushing in First Look Image of Disney+’s 'Togo,'" Collider, Oct. 24, 2019.

IMDb, "Togo (2019)" (accessed Nov. 16, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Togo (film)" (accessed Nov. 14, 2019).

"'The Great Alaskan Race' Review: A Historic Sled Rescue Turned to Mush," New York Times, Oct. 24, 2019.

IMDb, "The Great Alaskan Race (2019)" (accessed Nov. 16, 2019).

Dennis Harvey, "Film Review: 'The Great Alaskan Race,'" Variety, Oct. 24, 2019.

It Happens Every Thursday, 1953.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Dianna Gabbard. Here are two corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

We're very sorry to have to say that we recently had to say goodbye to Sasha. We feel very grateful that we got to share our lives with her for over 18 years, but several days ago we learned that she had advanced bone cancer. Until quite recently she had been very active, alert, and engaged in life, so the news was rather a shock to us. The cancer wasn't treatable, and after a few days we realized that the time had come for us to have to say goodbye. She will be very missed, and no beloved pet is ever fully replaceable, but we do hope at some point in the future to find another cat that needs a good home, when we are ready.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Nov 25, 2019
273-Alice Ramsey's Historic Drive
32:29

In 1909, 22-year-old Alice Huyler Ramsey set out to become the first woman to drive across the United States. In an era of imperfect cars and atrocious roads, she would have to find her own way and undertake her own repairs across 3800 miles of rugged, poorly mapped terrain. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow Ramsey on her historic journey.

We'll also ponder the limits of free speech and puzzle over some banned candy.

Intro:

Journalist Henri de Blowitz received the Treaty of Berlin in the lining of a hat.

In 1895 John Haberle painted a slate so realistic that viewers were tempted to use it.

Sources for our feature on Alice Ramsey:

Alice Ramsey and Gregory M. Franzwa, Alice's Drive: Republishing Veil, Duster, and Tire Iron, 2005.

Curt McConnell, A Reliable Car and a Woman Who Knows It: The First Coast-to-Coast Auto Trips by Women, 1899-1916, 2000.

Women's Project of New Jersey, Past and Promise: Lives of New Jersey Women, 1997.

Catherine Gourley, Gibson Girls and Suffragists: Perceptions of Women from 1900 to 1918, 2008.

Christina E. Dando, Women and Cartography in the Progressive Era, 2017.

David Holmstrom, "On the Road With Alice," American History 29:3 (July/August 1994).

Don Brown and Evan Rothman, "Queen of the Road," Biography 1:2 (February 1997), 48-52.

Marina Koestler Ruben, "Alice Ramsey's Historic Cross-Country Drive," Smithsonian.com, June 4, 2009.

Katherine Parkin, "Alice Ramsey: Driving in New Directions," New Jersey Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 4:2 (2018), 160-178.

Carla Rose Lesh, "'What a Woman Can Do With an Auto': American Women in the Early Automotive Era," dissertation, State University of New York at Albany, 2010.

Brandon Dye, "Girls on the Road," Autoweek 56:36 (Sept. 4, 2006), 34.

Jay Levin, "Daughter of Motoring Pioneer Dies," [Bergen County, N.J.] Record, Nov. 18, 2015, L.6.

Joe Blackstock, "Alice Ramsey First Woman to Cross U.S. by Car," Inland Valley [Calif.] Daily Bulletin, March 28, 2011.

Robert Peele, "History That's More Than the Sum of Its Parts," New York Times, March 26, 2010.

"Preservation Society Honors Historic Drive," Reno Gazette-Journal, Oct. 9, 2009.

Robert Peele, "New York to San Francisco in a 1909 Maxwell DA," New York Times, July 12, 2009.

Robert Peele, "Recreating a 100-Year-Old Road Trip," New York Times, June 20, 2009.

Jane Palmer, "Driving Along Like It's 1909," McClatchy-Tribune Business News, June 18, 2009.

Jay Levin, "The Same Trip, 100 Years Later: N.J. Mother's 1909 Milestone," [Bergen County, N.J.] Record, June 10, 2009, L.3.

"Re-enacting a Ground-Breaking Journey," New York Times, June 5, 2009.

Jay Levin, "Trailblazing Ride Made History: 1909 Road Trip First for a Woman," [Bergen County, N.J.] Record, March 22, 2009, L.1.

"Women Transcontinentalists Nearing Chicago," Automobile Topics 8:11 (June 19, 1909), 742.

David Conwill, "Alice Ramsey," Hemmings Classic Car 164 (May 2018).

"Alice Ramsey," Automotive Hall of Fame (accessed Nov. 3, 2019).

Guide to the Alice Huyler Ramsey Papers, 1905-1989, Vassar College (accessed Nov. 3, 2019).

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Rage (King novel)," (accessed Nov. 6, 2019).

Corey Adwar, "This Stephen King Novel Will Never Be Printed Again After It Was Tied to School Shootings," Business Insider, April 1, 2014.

"Vermont Library Conference/VEMA Annual Meeting: The Bogeyboys," StephenKing.com (accessed Nov. 6, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors" (accessed Nov. 6, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Paladin Press" (accessed Nov. 10, 2019).

"Killer of Three Gets Reduced Sentence," Washington Times, May 17, 2001.

Emilie S. Kraft, "Hit Man Manual," First Amendment Encyclopedia, Middle Tennessee State University (accessed Nov. 10, 2019).

Calvin Reid, "Paladin Press Pays Millions to Settle 'Hit Man' Case," Publishers Weekly, May 31, 1999.

David G. Savage, "Publisher of 'Hit Man' Manual Agrees to Settle Suit Over Triple Slaying," Los Angeles Times, May 22, 1999.

Rice v. Paladin Enterprises, Inc., 128 F. 3d 233 - Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit 1997.

David Montgomery, "If Books Could Kill," Washington Post, July 26, 1998.

Robert W. Welkos, "Judge Throws Out Lawsuit Against Oliver Stone," Los Angeles Times, March 13, 2001.

"Natural Born Killers Lawsuit Finally Thrown Out," Guardian, March 13, 2001.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Simone and her father. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Nov 18, 2019
272-The Cannibal Convict
31:51

In 1822, Irish thief Alexander Pearce joined seven convicts fleeing a penal colony in western Tasmania. As they struggled eastward through some of the most inhospitable terrain on Earth, starvation pressed the party into a series of grim sacrifices. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow the prisoners on their nightmarish bid for freedom.

We'll also unearth another giant and puzzle over an eagle's itinerary.

Intro:

Two presenters at an 1884 AAAS meeting reported on "musical sand" at Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass.

In scenes of pathos, Charles Dickens often slipped into blank verse.

Sources for our feature on Alexander Pearce:

Paul Collins, Hell's Gates, 2014.

Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding, 2012.

Robert Cox, A Compulsion to Kill: The Surprising Story of Australia's Earliest Serial Killers, 2014.

Jane Stadler, Peta Mitchell, and Stephen Carleton, Imagined Landscapes: Geovisualizing Australian Spatial Narratives, 2015.

"Alexander Pearce," Convict Records of Australia (accessed Oct. 27, 2019).

Roger W. Byard and Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, "Cannibalism Amongst Penitentiary Escapees From Sarah Island in Nineteenth Century Van Diemen's Land," Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology 1:3 (September 2018), 410–415.

Therese-Marie Meyer, "Prison Without Walls: The Tasmanian Bush in Australian Convict Novels," Antipodes 27:2 (December 2013), 143-148.

Michael A. Ashby and Leigh E. Rich, "Eating People Is Wrong ... or How We Decide Morally What to Eat," Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 10:2 (June 2013), 129–131.

Gananath Obeyesekere, "'British Cannibals': Contemplation of an Event in the Death and Resurrection of James Cook, Explorer," Critical Inquiry 18:4 (Summer 1992), 630-654.

Craig Cormick, "Confessions of a Cannibal," MARGIN: Monash Australiana Research Group Informal Notes, Issue 62, April 2004.

Cassie Crofts, "Australian History: The Cannibal Convict," National Geographic, Jan. 8, 2016.

"Alexander Pearce," Australian Geographic (accessed Oct. 27, 2019).

Simon Morris, "No Person Can Tell What He Will Do When Driven by Hunger," Australian Geographic 94 (April-June 2009), 74-79.

"The Convict Cannibal," Australian Geographic 94 (April-June 2009), 77.

Tim Kroenert, "Cannibal Convict's Tour of Hell," Eureka Street 19:18 (Sept. 25, 2009), 5-7.

"John Hagan: On the Trail of a Cannibal," Belfast Telegraph, May 12, 2007, 1.

Paul Kalina, "Grisly Confession of a Cannibal Convict: Cover Story," The Age, Jan. 22, 2009, 12.

Christopher Bantick, "Mind of a Maneater," Sunday Tasmanian, Aug. 10, 2008, A.8.

Rebecca Fitzgibbon, "Our Own Breed of Horror," Sunday Tasmanian, Nov. 2, 2008, 68.

Anita Beaumont, "Cannibal Convicts: Cover Story," [Newcastle, N.S.W.] Herald, Jan. 23, 2009, 5.

Fran Cusworth, "Meat on the Hoof," [Melbourne] Herald Sun, Dec. 7, 2002, W.21.

"A Real Life Horror Story of the Irish Cannibal Who Terrorized Australia," IrishCentral, Oct. 4, 2018.

Rebecca Fitzgibbon, "Heart of Darkness," Sunday Tasmanian, Sept. 20, 2009, 25.

LJ Charleston, "'We Ate Each Other One by One': The Gruesome Story of Alexander Pearce the Cannibal Convict," news.com.au, May 5, 2019.

Greg Clarke, "Heavenly Signs at Gates to Hell," Sunday Tasmanian, Aug. 3, 2008, A.18.

"Colonial Crime: Alexander Pearce, the Cannibal," Nightlife, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Dec. 20, 2018.

"Alexander Pearce (1790 - 1824)," WikiTree (accessed Nov. 1, 2019).

Listener mail:

A. Glenn Rogers, "The Taughannock Giant," Life in the Finger Lakes, 1953.

Charley Githler, "A Look Back At: Home-Grown Hoax: The Taughannock Giant," [Ithaca, N.Y.] Tompkins Weekly, Dec. 26, 2017.

Charley Githler, "Local Legend: The Taughannock Giant," Ithaca.com, June 15, 2019.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Sharon. Here are two corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Nov 11, 2019
271-The Fraudulent Life of Cassie Chadwick
32:18

In 1902, scam artist Cassie Chadwick convinced an Ohio lawyer that she was the illegitimate daughter of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. She parlayed this reputation into a life of unthinkable extravagance -- until her debts came due. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Chadwick's efforts to maintain the ruse -- and how she hoped to get away with it.

We'll also encounter a haunted tomb and puzzle over an exonerated merchant.

Intro:

Inventor Otis L. Boucher offered a steel suit for soldiers during World War I.

The tippe top leaps up onto its stem when spun.

Sources for our feature on Cassie Chadwick:

Kerry Segrave, Women Swindlers in America, 1860-1920, 2014.

Alan F. Dutka, Misfortune on Cleveland's Millionaires' Row, 2015.

George C. Kohn, The New Encyclopedia of American Scandal, 2001.

William Henry Theobald, Defrauding the Government: True Tales of Smuggling, From the Note-book of a Confidential Agent of the United States Treasury, 1908.

Karen Abbott, "The High Priestess of Fraudulent Finance," Smithsonian.com, June 27, 2012.

"Chadwick, Cassie L.," Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (accessed Oct. 20, 2019).

Lindsay Kernohan, "Cassie Chadwick: A Very Double Life," Strathroy [Ontario] Age Dispatch, May 17, 2018, A7.

Sadie Stein, "Impostors Among Us," Town and Country, February 2017.

"Top 10 Imposters," Time, May 26, 2009.

"Mrs. Chadwick Measured," Poughkeepsie Journal, Dec. 30, 2004, C.1.

"Femme Fatale," D&B Reports 40:4 (July/August 1992), 47.

"Cassie Chadwick's Jewels," The Bankers Magazine 106:3 (March 1923), 551.

Arthur B. Reeve, "New and Old South Sea Bubbles," World's Work 41:1 (November 1920), 31-35.

C.P. Connolly, "Marvelous Cassie Chadwick," McClure's Magazine 48:1 (November 1916), 9-11, 65-71.

Walter Prichard Eaton, "The Gullible Rich," Munsey's Magazine 46:3 (December 1911), 335-340.

"Cassie Chadwick Fretted Life Away in Ohio Prison," Cañon City [Colo.] Record 30:42 (October 17, 1907), 12.

"Cassie Chadwick Dies in Prison," New York Times, Oct. 11, 1907.

"Mrs. Chadwick Broken Down," Chickasha [Indian Territory] Daily Express, Feb. 19, 1907.

"Mrs. Chadwick's Sentence," New York Times, March 28, 1905.

"Carnegie Sees Note; Laughs at Bad Spelling of Chadwick Trust Agreement," New York Times, March 6, 1905.

"Mr. Carnegie on Hand for Chadwick Trial," New York Times, March 5, 1905.

"Chadwick Indictments," New York Times, Feb. 22, 1905.

"Motion to Quash," St. John Daily Sun, Feb. 28, 1905.

"Tracing Chadwick Satchel," New York Times, Dec. 22, 1904.

"Nearly Collapsed in Court," [Fredericksburg, Va.] Daily Star, Dec. 19, 1904.

"Meeting Dramatic," Associated Press, Dec. 16, 1904.

"Chadwick Paper Out Is Over $19,000,000," New York Times, Dec. 11, 1904.

"Trail of Mrs. Chadwick," Carroll [Iowa] Herald, Dec. 7, 1904.

Listener mail:

C.H. Shanan, "The Haunted Tomb," Wide World Magazine 35:207 (July 1915), 281-285. (Listener Peter Atwood found this story through the podcast Reading, Short and Deep, Episode 188.)

Wikipedia, "The Wide World Magazine" (accessed Oct. 26, 2019).

"The Wide World Magazine," The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia (accessed Oct. 23, 2019).

"Biography: The Boer War," The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia (accessed Oct. 23, 2019).

Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Arthur Conan Doyle" (accessed Oct. 23, 2019).

"Govt Mulling Over 1400-km Long Great 'Green Wall' to Tackle Land Desertification," News 18 India, Oct. 9, 2019.

Vishwa Mohan, "Government Plans 1,400km Long Great 'Green Wall' of India," Times of India, Oct. 9, 2019.

Aryn Baker, "Can a 4,815-Mile Wall of Trees Help Curb Climate Change in Africa?", Time, Sept. 12, 2019.

Tony Hoare, "Null References: The Billion Dollar Mistake," QCon 2009.

Wikipedia, "Tony Hoare" (accessed Oct. 23, 2019).

The Chambers Dictionary.

Chambers' 500 entertaining words.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Greg. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Nov 04, 2019
270-Kidnapped by North Korea
34:03

In 1978, two luminaries of South Korean cinema were abducted by Kim Jong-Il and forced to make films in North Korea in an outlandish plan to improve his country's fortunes. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of Choi Eun-Hee and Shin Sang-Ok and their dramatic efforts to escape their captors.

We'll also examine Napoleon's wallpaper and puzzle over an abandoned construction.

Intro:

In 1891, Robert Baden-Powell encoded the locations of Dalmatian forts in innocent drawings of butterflies.

Legal scholar Mark V. Tushnet suggests how a 16-year-old might seek the presidency.

Sources for our feature on Kim Jong-Il:

Paul Fischer, A Kim Jong-Il Production, 2015.

Johannes Schönherr, North Korean Cinema: A History, 2012.

Steven Chung, Split Screen Korea: Shin Sang-ok and Postwar Cinema, 2014.

Bradley K. Martin, Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty, 2007.

"Choi Eun-hee: South Korean Actress Who Was Kidnapped by North Dies," BBC, April 17, 2018.

Martin Belam, "Choi Eun-hee, Actor Once Abducted by North Korea, Dies," Guardian, April 17, 2018.

"A Hong Kong Kidnap: How Kim Jong-il Had South Korea's Top Actress Abducted From Repulse Bay," South China Morning Post, March 25, 2015.

"Famed South Korean Actress Choi Eun-Hee, Who Was Abducted by North Korean Spies in Hong Kong for Film Fan Kim Jong-Il, Dies Aged 91," South China Morning Post, April 17, 2018.

Olivier Holmey, "Remembering Choi Eun-hee, the South Korean Film Actor Once Abducted by Pyongyang," Independent, May 14, 2018.

Ilana Kaplan, "Choi Eun-Hee Dead: South Korean Actress Once Kidnapped by North Korea Dies Aged 92," Independent, April 17, 2018.

Barbara Demick, "Secret Tape Recordings of Kim Jong Il Provide Rare Insight Into the Psyche of His North Korean Regime," Los Angeles Times, Oct. 27, 2016.

Euan McKirdy, "South Korean Actress and Former North Korean Abductee Choi Eun-Hee Dies," CNN, April 17, 2018.

Julian Ryall, "The Incredible Life Story of Actress Choi Eun-Hee, Abducted by North Korea and Forced to Make Films for Kim Jong-il," Telegraph, April 17, 2018.

Nicolas Levi, "Kim Jong Il: A Film Director Who Ran a Country," Journal of Modern Science 25:2 (2015), 155-166.

Choe Sang-Hun, "Obituary: Shin Sang Ok, 80, Korean Film Director," New York Times, April 12, 2006.

Douglas Martin, "Shin Sang Ok, 80, Korean Film Director Abducted by Dictator, Is Dead," New York Times, April 13, 2006.

Alexandra Alter, "North Korea’s Love-Hate of Movies," New York Times, Dec. 31, 2014.

Peter Maass, "The Last Emperor," New York Times, Oct. 19, 2003.

Chris Knight, "Kim Jong-il's Bizarre Interlude in the Movies," Ottawa Citizen, Sept. 30, 2016, E.5.

"A Memoir: Shin Sang-ok, Choi Eun-hee and I," Korea Times, Oct. 5, 2016.

"Choi Eun-hee: Beautiful Actress and Doyenne of Postwar South Korean Films Before Her Kidnap by North Korea Where She Lived in a Gilded Cage," Times, June 4, 2018, 48.

Ronald Bergan, "Obituary: Shin Sang-Ok: South Korean Film Director Whose Life Read Like the Plot of a Far-Fetched Thriller," Guardian, April 19, 2006, 34.

Lawrence Levi, "Lights, Camera, Kidnap," Newsday, Feb. 8, 2015, C.17.

"The Incredible Life Story of Actress Choi Eun-hee, Abducted by North Korea and Forced to Make Films for Kim Jong-il," Telegraph, April 17, 2018.

An Hong-Kyoon, "More Dramatic Than Movie," Korea Times, Oct. 6, 2016.

Hannah McGill, "Acting in the Dictator's Cut," Independent, March 14, 2015, 22.

Olivier Holmey, "South Korean Film Actor Abducted by Pyongyang," Independent, May 16, 2018, 36.

Peter Keough, "How Kim Jong-il Got What He Wanted," Boston Globe, Sept. 23, 2016, G.8.

Peter Keough, "That Time Kim Jong-il Kidnapped His Favorite Movie Star and Director," Boston Globe, Sept. 21, 2016, G.8.

Khang Hyun-sung, "Director's Colourful Life Competed With His Cinematic Creations," South China Morning Post, April 15, 2006, 11.

Jennifer Hunter, "The Stranger-Than-Fiction Abduction of a Director and His Star," Toronto Star, Jan. 31, 2015, IN.3.

"Obituary of Shin Sang-ok," Daily Telegraph, May 6, 2006.

Tim Robey, "Losing the Plot: Kim Jong-il Was So Set on Film-Making He Kidnapped Two South Korean Stars," Daily Telegraph, Feb. 28, 2015, 30.

Here's Pulgasari, the monster movie that got Shin and Choi to Vienna. In the West it's regarded as a dud. "Pulgasari marked a turn in Shin's career, the first time he had put all his energy into a picture and created a stinker," writes Paul Fischer. "It was a sudden, inexplicable transformation, after which Shin never recovered his magic touch."

Listener mail:

Ted Chamberlain, "Napoleon Death Mystery Solved, Experts Say," National Geographic, Jan. 17, 2007.

"Napoleon Death: Arsenic Poisoning Ruled Out," Live Science, Feb. 12, 2008.

"Was Napoleon Poisoned?", American Museum of Natural History, Jan. 21, 2014.

J. Thomas Hindmarsh and John Savory, "The Death of Napoleon, Cancer or Arsenic?", Clinical Chemistry 54:12 (2008), 2092-2093.

William J. Broad, "Hair Analysis Deflates Napoleon Poisoning Theories," New York Times, June 10, 2008.

Max Finkel, "Instead of a Ticket, Some Speeders in Estonia Are Getting a Time Out," Jalopnik, Sept. 28, 2019.

Jonathan Schultz, "Speed Camera Lottery Wins VW Fun Theory Contest," New York Times, Nov. 30, 2010.

Elizabeth Haggarty, "Speed Camera Lottery Pays Drivers for Slowing Down," Toronto Star, Dec. 9, 2010.

DDB, "DDB's Fun Theory for Volkswagen Takes Home Cannes Cyber Grand Prix," June 25, 2010.

Wikipedia, "Radar Speed Sign: Effectiveness," (accessed Oct. 19, 2019).

"The Speed Camera Lottery - The Fun Theory," Rolighetsteorin, Nov. 12, 2010.

Volkswagen, "The Fun Theory 1 – Piano Staircase Initiative," Oct. 26, 2009.

Elle Hunt, "Cash Converters: Could This Dutch Scheme Stop Drivers Speeding?", Guardian, May 25, 2018.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle is from Paul Sloane and Des MacHale's 2014 book Remarkable Lateral Thinking Puzzles. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Oct 28, 2019
269-The Sack of Baltimore
30:48

One night in 1631, pirates from the Barbary coast stole ashore at the little Irish village of Baltimore and abducted 107 people to a life of slavery in Algiers -- a rare instance of African raiders seizing white slaves from the British Isles. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the sack of Baltimore and the new life that awaited the captives in North Africa.

We'll also save the Tower of London and puzzle over a controversial number.

Intro:

In 1999, inventor Allison Andrews proposed dividing all our pants in half.

In 1955, test pilot Alvin Johnston put an airliner through a barrel roll.

Sources for our feature on the sack of Baltimore:

Des Ekin, The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates, 2012.

Nabil Matar, British Captives From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, 2014.

David D. Hebb, Piracy and the English Government 1616–1642: Policy-Making Under the Early Stuarts, 2016.

Sir Robert Lambert Playfair, The Scourge of Christendom: Annals of British Relations With Algiers Prior to the French Conquest, 1884.

Theresa D. Murray, "From Baltimore to Barbary: The 1631 Sack of Baltimore," History Ireland 14:4 (July/August 2006).

Nabil Matar, "The Barbary Corsairs, King Charles I and the Civil War," Seventeenth Century 16:2 (October 2001), 239-258.

Nabil I. Matar, "Wives, Captive Husbands, and Turks: The First Women Petitioners in Caroline England," Explorations in Renaissance Culture 40:1-2 (Summer-Winter 2014), 125+.

Paul Baepler, "The Barbary Captivity Narrative in American Culture," Early American Literature 39:2 (January 2004), 217-246.

Robert C. Davis, "Counting European Slaves on the Barbary Coast," Past & Present 172 (August 2001), 87-124.

Paul Baepler, "White Slaves, African Masters," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 588 (July 2003), 90-111.

Erik Göbel, "The Danish Algerian Sea Passes, 1747-1838: An Example of Extraterritorial Production of Human Security," Historical Social Research 35:4, 164-189.

Des Ekin, "The Irish Village That Was Kidnapped by Islamist Extremists," Irish Independent, Sept. 2, 2006, 1.

"Cork Village to Recall Historical Event in Summer Festival," Irish Times, June 20, 2000, 2.

Frank McNally, "An Irishman's Diary," Irish Times, June 20, 2007, 17.

"Algerian Pirates Who Took Devon Settlers as Slaves," [Exeter] Express & Echo, June 20, 2007, 15.

"Pirates of the Cork Coast," Irish Times, Sept. 16, 2006, 9.

"Village Stolen for a Life of Slavery," [Plymouth, U.K.] Western Morning News, Feb. 17, 2007, 10.

"Islamic Pirates' Raid on Baltimore," Nationalist, Nov. 16, 2010.

Lara Marlowe, "Secrets of Barbary Corsair Life Uncovered: Historian Debunks Myth of 'Savage' Attack by Barbary Corsairs on Baltimore," Irish Times, Feb. 18, 1998, 13.

"Anniversary of Baltimore Pirate Raid," Irish Examiner, June 20, 2013.

"The Irish Slaves in North Africa," Irish Independent, Nov. 11, 2006, 1.

James McConnachie, "Scourge of the Waves: Mediterranean Pirates Were Easily as Exotic and Terrifying as Their More Famous Caribbean Counterparts," Sunday Times, March 28, 2010, 42.

Barry Roche, "Pirate Raid That Stunned Nation," Sun, Jan. 10, 2003, 8.

Thomas Osborne Davis, "The Sack of Baltimore," in Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed., A Victorian Anthology, 1895.

Listener mail:

Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Victoria Day" (accessed Oct. 10, 2019).

Canadian Encyclopedia, "Victoria Day," Feb. 7, 2006.

"Why Do We Celebrate Victoria Day?", CBC Kids (accessed Oct. 10, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Victoria Day (Scotland)" (accessed Oct. 10, 2019).

No Such Thing as a Fish, Episode 111, "No Such Thing as Snappedy Chat," originally aired April 28, 2016.

Wikipedia, "Queen's Official Birthday" (accessed Oct. 9, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Ravens of the Tower of London" (accessed Oct. 10, 2019).

William Booth, "The Secrets of the Tower of London's Royal Ravenmaster," Washington Post, Oct. 20, 2018.

"How the Ravenmaster of London Protects the Kingdom With Birds," CBC Radio, Oct. 30, 2018.

PD Smith, "The Ravenmaster by Christopher Skaife Review -- My Life at the Tower of London," Guardian, Nov. 3, 2018.

"Tower of London Welcomes First Raven Chicks in 30 Years," BBC News, May 17, 2019.

Meilan Solly, "Tower of London Welcomes Baby Ravens for the First Time in 30 Years," Smithsonian.com, May 21, 2019.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Mendel Smith, who sent this corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Oct 21, 2019
268-The Great Impostor
32:36

Ferdinand Demara earned his reputation as the Great Impostor: For over 22 years he criss-crossed the country, posing as everything from an auditor to a zoologist and stealing a succession of identities to fool his employers. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review Demara's motivation, morality, and techniques -- and the charismatic spell he seemed to cast over others.

We'll also make Big Ben strike 13 and puzzle over a movie watcher's cat.

Intro:

In 1825, Thomas Steele proposed enclosing Isaac Newton's residence in a pyramid surmounted by a stone globe.

In 1923 Arthur Guiterman found a rhyme for wasp.

Sources for our feature on Ferdinand Demara:

Robert Crichton, The Great Impostor, 1959.

Robert Crichton, The Rascal and the Road, 1961.

Frank E. Hagan, Introduction to Criminology: Theories, Methods, and Criminal Behavior, 2008.

Joe McCarthy, "The Master Imposter: An Incredible Tale," Life, Jan. 28, 1952.

Susan Goldenberg, "Unmasked," Canada's History 91:1 (February/March 2011), 31-36.

Ray Cavanaugh, "Brother, Doctor, Soldier, Lies," National Catholic Reporter 51:20 (July 17, 2015), 16.

David Goldman, "The Great Impostor," Biography 4:8 (August 2000), 24.

"Ferdinand Waldo Demara, 60, An Impostor in Varied Fields," Associated Press, June 9, 1982.

Tim Holmes, "Ferdinand Waldo Demara: One of the Greatest Imposters the World Has Ever Seen," Independent, Aug. 29, 2019.

Kevin Loria, "The True Story of a Con Artist Who Conducted Surgeries, Ran a Prison, Taught College, and More," Business Insider, Feb. 20, 2016.

"Americana: Ferdinand the Bull Thrower," Time, Feb. 25, 1957.

Samuel Thurston, "Champion Rascal," New York Times, July 26, 1959.

"Top 10 Imposters," Time, May 26, 2009.

"'The Great Imposter' Reportedly a Cleric," Associated Press, Jan. 8, 1970.

Thomas M. Pryor, "Universal to Film 'Great Impostor'; Career of Ferdinand Demara Jr. Will Be Traced -- Lilli Palmer's Pact Extended," New York Times, March 12, 1959.

John Schwartz, "Ideas & Trends; James Gatz, Please Call Your Office," New York Times, March 11, 2001.

Eric Pace, "Notes on People," New York Times, April 6, 1978.

"Fake Surgeon a Success; Canada to Oust American Who Served Navy in Korea," New York Times, Nov. 21, 1951.

"Navy Drops Bogus Surgeon," New York Times, Jan. 30, 1952.

"Schoolmaster a Fraud; 'Surgeon' During Korea War Is Unmasked in Maine," New York Times, Feb. 15, 1957.

Samuel T. Williamson, "Life Is a Masquerade," New York Times, Dec. 3, 1961.

Glen Hallick, "Local Veteran Reflects on Service in the Korean War," Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times [Manitoba], July 25, 2013, 14.

Glenn R. Lisle, "Waldo Demara Was a Daring Imposter," Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 20, 2006, A15.

"The Original 'Impostor'," Newsday, Oct. 13, 1996, A.41.

"Korean War Veteran Wells Met the Great Imposter," Scarborough [Ontario] Mirror, Nov. 12, 2012, 1.

Marty Gervais, "My Town," Windsor [Ontario] Star, May 31, 2003, A5.

Darren Mcdonald, "The Great Imposter," Chilliwack [B.C.] Times, Nov. 11, 2005, B2.

John F. Morrison, "'The Great Imposter': Jack Doe of All Trades," Philadelphia Daily News, March 30, 1983, 22.

Pat MacAdam, "The Great Impostor's Last Victim," Ottawa Citizen, April 11, 1999, A3.

John Affleck, "Bold Look Into Minds of Conmen," Gold Coast [Southport, Queensland] Bulletin, June 18, 2016, 55.

Glen Hallick, "Stan Davis Reflects on His Service in the Korean War," Interlake Spectator, July 25, 2013, 12.

"From Our Pages: 1951," Kingston [Ontario] Whig, Dec. 27, 1999, 54.

Darrel Bristow-Bovey, "The Man With 50 Lives," [Johannesburg] Times, Nov. 3, 2017.

When Demara appeared on You Bet Your Life in 1959, Groucho Marx called him "the most intelligent and charming and likable crook I've ever met."

Listener mail:

"Hear Big Ben on the Radio Before You Hear It in Real Life," Londonist, Sept. 26, 2014.

John O'Ceallaigh, "40 Amazing Facts About Big Ben – As Its Clock Takes on a New Colour," Telegraph, March 22, 2019.

"The Great Bell - Big Ben," parliament.uk (accessed Oct. 5, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Big Ben" (accessed Oct. 5, 2019).

"How to Make Big Ben Strike Thirteen?", Secrets of the Universe, BBC, Nov. 1, 2010.

Wikipedia, "Big Ben Strikes Again" (accessed Oct. 3, 2019).

Jets Hunt, GPS Puzzles and the Sherlock Holmes Mystery: GPS (Global Positioning System) vs. Sherlock Holmes, 2010.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listeners Neil De Carteret and Nala.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Oct 14, 2019
267-The Murchison Murders
32:11

In 1929, detective novelist Arthur Upfield wanted to devise the perfect murder, so he started a discussion among his friends in Western Australia. He was pleased with their solution -- until local workers began disappearing, as if the book were coming true. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the Murchison murders, a disturbing case of life imitating art.

We'll also incite a revolution and puzzle over a perplexing purchase.

Intro:

Jacques Jouet wrote a love poem in the language of Tarzan's great apes.

To accompany Apollo 11, the president of Ivory Coast wrote a message to the moon.

Above: Snowy Rowles with James Ryan's car, photographed by Arthur Upfield. Sources for our feature on the Murchison murders:

Arthur Upfield, The Murchison Murders, 1932.

Arthur Upfield, The Sands of Windee, 1931.

Arthur Upfield, Up and Down the Real Australia, 2009.

Jack Coulter, With Malice Aforethought, 1982.

James Morton and Susanna Lobez, Dangerous to Know: An Australasian Crime Compendium, 2009.

Travis Barton Lindsey, Arthur William Upfield: A Biography, dissertation, Murdoch University, 2005.

Carol Hetherington, "Bony at Home and Abroad: The Arthur Upfield Phenomenon," Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (2009).

Bill Casey, "Some Burning Issues: Arthur Upfield and the Murchison Murders, Marginalising Aboriginal People and Suggestions on Teaching Australia's History of Frontier Violence," Australian Aboriginal Studies 1 (2018), 29-42.

"Turning Pages," The Age, July 18, 2015, 29.

Christopher Fowler, "Arthur Upfield," Independent, Sept. 15, 2013, 16.

Terry Sweetman, "Perfect Murder Around the Fire," [Brisbane] Courier-Mail, Aug. 25, 2013, 55.

James Cockington, "Detective Work Pays Off: Enjoy It - Collect," Sydney Morning Herald, Nov. 17, 2010, 13.

Rachel Browne, "Perfect Crime," [Sydney] Sun-Herald, June 14, 2009, 3.

Bridget McManus, "A Novel Approach to Crime," Sydney Morning Herald, June 8, 2009, 6.

Many thanks to Graham Marshall for his help in researching this story.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "The Scottish Play" (accessed Sept. 4, 2019).

Royal Shakespeare Company, "The Curse of the Scottish Play" (accessed Sept. 4, 2019).

"Macbeth: The Curse of the Scottish Play," Telegraph, Sept. 18, 2015.

Laura Schumm, "Why Do Actors Avoid the Word 'Macbeth'?", History.com, April 9, 2014.

David Berre, "'Macbeth' Curse of the Stage," Washington Post, Jan. 28, 1988.

"'Scottish Curse' Struck Heston in Bermuda," Bernews, April 7, 2013.

Tim Hodgson, "Heston's 'Macbeth' Painting Goes on Display," Royal Gazette, April 18, 2016.

"Did the Dumb Girl of Portici Really Set Off the Belgian Revolution in 1830?", Focus on Belgium, Aug. 10, 2018.

Wikipedia, "La muette de Portici," (accessed Sept. 17, 2019).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Jim Power.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Oct 07, 2019
266-Lateral Thinking Puzzles
32:49

Here are seven new lateral thinking puzzles -- play along with us as we try to untangle some perplexing situations using yes-or-no questions.

Intro:

The Rotator typeface presents the digits 0-9 even when turned upside down.

In 1897 The Strand designed a complete alphabet using three human acrobats.

The sources for this week's puzzles are below. In a few places we've included links to further information -- these contain spoilers, so don't click until you've listened to the episode:

Puzzle #1 is from Kyle's Hendrickson's 1998 book Mental Fitness Puzzles.

Puzzle #2 was contributed by listener Chris.

Puzzle #3 was contributed by listener Wayne. Here are two links with further information.

Puzzle #4 is from listener Jeff Harvey.

Puzzle #5 is from listener Ben Sack, who sent two corroborating links.

Puzzle #6 is based on an item in Dan Lewis' Now I Know newsletter. Here's a corroborating link.

Puzzle #7 is from listener Katie Tripp.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Sep 30, 2019
265-The Great Hedge of India
34:07

In the 19th century, an enormous hedge ran for more than a thousand miles across India, installed by the British to enforce a tax on salt. Though it took a Herculean effort to build, today it's been almost completely forgotten. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe this strange project and reflect on its disappearance from history.

We'll also exonerate a rooster and puzzle over a racing murderer.

Intro:

A group of plasterers working in London’s Tate Britain art gallery in 1897 left a message for future generations.

Four chemical elements were discovered in the same Swedish mine.

Sources for our feature on the Great Hedge of India:

Roy Moxham, The Great Hedge of India: The Search for the Living Barrier that Divided a People, 2001.

Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History, 2011.

Sir William Henry Sleeman, Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official, 1844.

Shugan Chand Aggarwal, The Salt Industry in India, 1976.

Sir John Strachey, India, 1888.

Ajit K. Neogy, The Paramount Power and the Princely States of India, 1858-1881, 1979.

Henry Francis Pelham, Essays, 1911.

G.S. Chhabra, Advanced Study in the History of Modern India: 1813-1919, 1971.

D.A. Barker, "The Taxation of Salt in India," The Economic Review 20 (1910), 165-172.

Nicholas Blomley, "Making Private Property: Enclosure, Common Right and the Work of Hedges," Rural History 18:1 (2007), 1-21.

Barry Lewis, "Village Defenses of the Karnataka Maidan, AD 1600–1800," South Asian Studies 25:1 (2009), 91-111.

Roy Moxham, "Salt Starvation in British India: Consequences of High Salt Taxation in Bengal Presidency, 1765 to 1878," Economic and Political Weekly 36:25 (June 23-29, 2001), 2270-2274.

Roy Moxham, "The Great Hedge of India," in Jantine Schroeder, Radu Botez, and Marine Formentini, Radioactive Waste Management and Constructing Memory for Future Generations: Proceedings of the International Conference and Debate, September 15-17, 2014, Verdun, France, Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 2015.

"The Great Hedge of India: A Lost Wonder of the World," The Long View, BBC Radio 4, March 14, 2017.

Adrian Higgins, "The Odd Tale of Britain's Wall — a Hedge — Across a Swath of India," Washington Post, Feb. 13, 2019.

David G.W. Birch, "When Britain Built Its Own Wall: The Great Hedge of India," iNews, Feb. 9, 2017.

Stephen Pritchard, "Privets on Parade ..." Guardian, Jan. 14, 2001.

Nilanjana S. Roy, "Of Indian Elections, Onions and Salt," New York Times, Nov. 20, 2013.

Maurice Chittenden, "Great Hedge of India Defended the Empire," Sunday Times, Dec. 10, 2000, 7.

Aneesh Gokhale, "Why British Built the Great Hedge of India," DNA, Aug. 12 2018.

Roy Moxham, "The Great Hedge of India," Sunday Telegraph, Jan. 7, 2001, 4.

Annabelle Quince, "Border Walls Around the World," Rear Vision, ABC Premium News, May 17, 2017.

"Have You Heard of the Salt Hedge?" New Indian Express, March 16, 2015.

Roy Moxham, "Magnificent Obsession," Weekend Australian, Oct. 5, 2002, B.26.

Matthew Wilson, "In the Thicket of It," Financial Times, Nov. 12, 2016, 20.

Moxham writes, "My GPS reading at Pali Ghar was 26° 32.2’ N, 79° 09.2’ E. If this reading is put into Google Earth, the embankment of the Hedge is clearly visible – but only if you already know it is there."

Listener mail:

Jonathan M. Gitlin, "Geeky License Plate Earns Hacker $12,000 in Parking Tickets," Ars Technica, Aug. 13, 2019.

Brian Barrett, "How a 'NULL' License Plate Landed One Hacker in Ticket Hell," Wired, Aug. 13, 2019.

Kim Willsher, "Maurice the Noisy Rooster Can Keep Crowing, Court Rules," Guardian, Sept. 5, 2019.

"French Rooster Maurice Wins Battle Over Noise With Neighbours," BBC News, Sept. 5, 2019.

"If It Quacks Like a Duck: Boisterous Poultry Land French Owner in Court," Agence France-Presse, Sept. 2, 2019.

Tom Whipple, "Larry the Cat Faces Rival as Jack Russell Puppy Arrives in Downing Street," Times, Sept. 2 2019.

Amy Walker, "Downing Street Gets New Resident -- a Dog Named Dilyn," Guardian, Sept. 2, 2019.

Hayley Dixon, "Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds to Move Rescued Jack Russell Puppy Into Downing Street," Telegraph, Sept. 1, 2019.

"Boris Johnson's New Rescue Puppy Moves Into Downing Street," BBC News, Sept. 2, 2019.

"Dogs That Keep Mice Away," Animal & Pest Control Specialist, Dec. 5, 2013.

"Working History of the Jack Russell Terrier," Jack Russell Terrier Club of America.

Tom Ough, "Sepsis, Incontinence, and Murder Mysteries: A History of Downing Street Pets," Telegraph, Sept. 2, 2019.

Meagan Flynn, "A Lawsuit Against Maurice the Rooster Divided France. Now a Judge Says He Can Crow in Peace," Washington Post, Sept 6, 2019.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Dafydd Viney, who sent this corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Sep 16, 2019
264-Jack Renton and the Saltwater People
33:10

In 1868, Scottish sailor Jack Renton found himself the captive of a native people in the Solomon Islands, but through luck and skill he rose to become a respected warrior among them. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of Renton's life among the saltwater people and his return to the Western world.

We'll also catch some more speeders and puzzle over a regrettable book.

Intro:

Thanks to one representative's 1904 demand, the U.S. House dining room serves a perpetual bean soup.

A 1962 Times correspondent asserts that all thrushes quote Mozart.

Sources for our feature on Jack Renton:

Nigel Randell, The White Headhunter: The Story of a 19-Century Sailor Who Survived a South Seas Heart of Darkness, 2004.

Clive Moore, Making Mala: Malaita in Solomon Islands, 1870s–1930s, 2017.

Judith A. Bennett, Wealth of the Solomons: A History of a Pacific Archipelago, 1800-1978, 1987.

Walter George Ivens, Revival: Melanesians of the South-East Solomon Islands, 1927.

Dennis Chute, "Shipwrecked on an Island Paradise," Edmonton Journal, Feb. 1, 2004, D11.

Christopher Hudson, "Life and Death of a White Headhunter," [Melbourne] Sunday Herald-Sun, Aug. 17, 2003, 37.

"The White Headhunter," Geographical 75:8 (August 2003), 64.

Stephen McGinty, "Portrait of a Head Hunter," Scotsman, July 26, 2003, 1.

"Secret Life of the White Headhunter," Scotsman, March 2, 2003.

"The Adventures of John Renton," [Melbourne] Argus, Oct. 23, 1875.

"The Recovery of John Renton From the Solomon Islands," Rockhampton [Queensland] Bulletin, Sept. 17, 1875.

"Renton, John," Solomon Islands Historical Encyclopaedia 1893-1978 (accessed Aug. 25, 2019).

Listener mail:

"German Constitutional Court Questions Speed Camera Reliability," TheNewspaper.com, July 5, 2019.

"Finland," SpeedingEurope.com, July 7, 2019.

Joe Pinsker, "Finland, Home of the $103,000 Speeding Ticket," Atlantic, March 12, 2015.

Wikipedia, "Day-Fine" (accessed Aug. 31, 2019).

Bill McKelvey, "Along the Delaware & Raritan Canal: A History & Resources Database," D&R Canal Watch, 2011.

Ken Hansen, "How-to: Texas Amateur Radio Operator License Plate," Irving Amateur Radio Club, Jan. 25, 2018.

"Speed and Red Light Cameras," Governors Highway Safety Association (accessed Sept. 3, 2019).

"Automated Speed-Camera Enforcement," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (accessed Sept. 3, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Traffic Enforcement Camera" (accessed Sept. 3, 2019).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Sharon. Here are three corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Sep 09, 2019
263-Memories of Proust
33:36

Confined in a Soviet prison camp in 1941, Polish painter Józef Czapski chose a unique way to cope: He lectured to the other prisoners on Marcel Proust's novel In Search of Lost Time. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Czapski's ambitious project and the surprising importance of literature to the prisoners of oppressive regimes.

We'll also race some lemons and puzzle over a woman's birthdays.

Intro:

A piano keyboard can be used as a calendar mnemonic.

After the Civil War, thousands of Confederates settled in Brazil.

Sources for our feature on Józef Czapski:

Józef Czapski, Lost Time: Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp, 2018.

Eric Karpeles, Almost Nothing: The 20th-Century Art and Life of Józef Czapski, 2018.

Józef Czapski, The Inhuman Land, 1952.

Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, 2012.

György Faludy, My Happy Days in Hell, 1962.

Jan Zielinski, "Milosz and Wat Read Brzozowski," Studies in East European Thought 63:4 (November 2011), 293-302.

Aden Kumler and Christopher R. Lakey, "Res et significatio: The Material Sense of Things in the Middle Ages," Gesta 51:1 (2012), 1-17.

Józef Czapski et al., "An Appeal on Behalf of the Western Edition of Puls," Polish Review 24:4 (1979), 122.

Eric Karpeles, "Proust in Prison," Brick: A Literary Journal 102 (Winter 2019), 128-137.

John Gray, "Józef Czapski: Painter, Prisoner, and Disciple of Proust," New Statesman, May 1, 2019.

Marta Figlerowicz, "Poland's Forgotten Bohemian War Hero," Boston Review, Feb. 6, 2019.

Paul Dean, "In Memoriam," New Criterion 37:7 (March 2019), 60-62.

Andrew Schenker, "The Work of Historical Witness: Józef Czapski’s 'Lost Time' and 'Inhuman Land,'" Los Angeles Review of Books, Dec. 18, 2018.

Ayten Tartici, "Reading Proust in the Gulag," New York Times Book Review, Jan. 16, 2019.

Michael Pinker, "Józef Czapski: A Life in Translation," Review of Contemporary Fiction 29:3 (Fall 2009), 182-183.

Edward Alden Jewell, "Polish Art Works to Assist Relief," New York Times, Dec. 13, 1939.

"Jurzykowski Fund Gives Awards to 11," New York Times, Jan. 13, 1966.

Ewa Kuryluk, "Subverting Poland From Paris," New York Times, April 1, 1990.

"Red Massacre of Poles Told," Manitoba Ensign, Dec. 31, 1949.

Stanislaw Frenkiel, "Obituary: Jozef Czapski Krakow to Katyn," Guardian, Jan. 27, 1993.

Cynthia Haven, "Shouldering the Century's Burden," Wall Street Journal, Jan. 25, 2019.

Malgorzata Kitowska-Lysiak, "Józef Czapski," Culture.pl, 2001.

Listener mail:

Michigan City Historical Society Old Lighthouse Museum, March 24, 2018.

Wikipedia, "24 Hours of LeMons" (accessed Aug. 22, 2019).

Tadd Haislop, "24 Hours of Lemons Is Like the 24 Hours of Le Mans — Just Funnier and Cheaper," Sporting News, June 15, 2019.

24 Hours of Lemons.

"Lemons Penalties 101," rahulnair.net, April 7, 2009.

"Prices & Rules," 24 Hours of Lemons (accessed Aug. 22, 2019).

Murilee Martin, "LeMons Prize Money: Rubles, Nickels, or Toilet-Seat Checks!" RoadKill, July 11, 2016.

Eric Rood, "The Index of Effluency: How to Win 24 Hours of LeMons' Top Prize," RoadKill, Dec. 1, 2015.

Estes Park Police Department, Facebook, Aug. 10, 2019.

Justin Wingerter, "Bear Crashes Through Estes Park Home 'Like the Kool-Aid Man,'" Denver Post, Aug. 11, 2019.

"Bear Breaks Into House and Smashes Wall to Leave," BBC News, Aug. 12, 2019.

Wikipedia, "Kool-Aid Man" (accessed Aug. 24, 2019).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Romy Higgins. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Sep 02, 2019
262-A Modern-Day Thoreau
33:03

In 1968, Richard Proenneke left his career as a heavy equipment operator and took up an entirely new existence. He flew to a remote Alaskan lake, built a log cabin by hand, and began a life of quiet self-reliance. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll hear Proenneke's reflections on a simple life lived in harmony with nature.

We'll also put a rooster on trial and puzzle over a curious purchase.

Intro:

Joshua Steele preserved David Garrick's line readings in a "prosodia rationalis."

The Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 passed because one large MP was counted as 10.

Sources for our feature on Richard Proenneke:

Sam Keith, One Man's Wilderness, 1973.

John Branson, More Readings From One Man's Wilderness: The Journals of Richard L. Proenneke, 2012.

"Reflections on a Man in His Wilderness," National Parks 91:2 (Spring 2017), 52-58.

Rosanne Pagano, "A Pebble in the Water," National Parks 83:2 (Spring 2009), 24-31.

Rona Marech, "Off the Grid," National Parks 91:2 (Spring 2017), 4.

Leigh Newman, "Cabin Fever," Sunset 234:2 (February 2015), 28-32.

"A Modern Day Thoreau," Alaska 69:7 (Sept. 2003), 78-79.

Jennifer Rebecca Kelly and Stacy Rule, "The Hunt as Love and Kill: Hunter-Prey Relations in the Discourse of Contemporary Hunting Magazines," Nature and Culture 8:2 (2013), 185-204.

Shelley Fralic, "An Icon for Modern Times; He Lived Alone for 32 Years in a Cabin He Built in Alaska," Vancouver Sun, March 26, 2010, A.15.

Jene Galvin, "Alaskan Cabin an Adventurer's Shrine," Cincinnati Enquirer, Oct. 28, 2007, 1.

Jenna Schnuer, "An Alaska National Park as Big as Connecticut. Annual Visitors? 23,000," New York Times, July 16, 2018.

Michael Babcock, "Check Out 'Alone in the Wilderness,'" Great Falls [Mont.] Tribune, Dec. 8, 2011, O.1.

Robert Cross, "Wrangell-St. Elias/Lake Clark: A Pair Too Big to Comprehend," Knight Ridder Tribune News Service, June 16, 2003, 1.

"Proenneke's Cabin," Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, National Park Service (accessed Aug. 11, 2019).

Alan Bennett, "Dick Proenneke – Hiking With a Legend," The Alaska Life (accessed Aug. 11, 2019).

Here's an excerpt from Alone in the Wilderness, a 2004 documentary about Proenneke's life on the lake.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!" (accessed Aug. 15, 2019).

"Saint Louis du Ha!Ha! Gets Guinness World Record Nod for Its Exclamation Marks," Canadian Press, Sept. 20, 2017.

Wikipedia, "Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump" (accessed Aug. 15, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Buffalo Jump" (accessed Aug. 15, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Happy Adventure" (accessed Aug. 15, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Swastika, Ontario" (accessed Aug. 15, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Pain Court, Ontario" (accessed Aug. 15, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Punkeydoodles Corners" (accessed Aug. 15, 2019).

(Non-family-friendly Newfoundland place name.)

Jack Guy and Antoine Crouin, "Maurice the Rooster in the Dock in Divisive French Trial," CNN, July 4, 2019.

Henry Samuel, "Trial Over Maurice the Cockerel's 'Rowdy' Dawn Crowing Becomes Gallic Cause Celebre," Telegraph, July 4, 2019.

"Rooster Maurice in Noisy French Court Battle With Neighbours," BBC News, July 4, 2019.

Adam Nossiter, "'The Rooster Must Be Defended': France’s Culture Clash Reaches a Coop," New York Times, June 23, 2019.

"The Londoner: Entreprepurr Jeremy Hunt Backs Larry the Cat," Standard, July 18, 2019.

Boris Johnson, "A very happy #InternationalCatDay to our Chief Mouser, Larry," Twitter, Aug. 8, 2019.

Jimmy Nsubuga, "Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Could Be Ousted Under Boris," Metro, July 26, 2019.

Wikipedia, "International Cat Day" (accessed Aug. 15, 2019).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was adapted from Edward J. Harshman's 1996 book Fantastic Lateral Thinking Puzzles.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Aug 26, 2019
261-The Murder of Lord William Russell
33:13

 

In May 1840 London was scandalized by the murder of Lord William Russell, who'd been found in his bed with his throat cut. The evidence seemed to point to an intruder, but suspicion soon fell on Russell's valet. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow the investigation and trial, and the late revelation that decided the case.

We'll also marvel at Ireland's greenery and puzzle over a foiled kidnapping.

Intro:

Marshal Ney directed his own execution.

Lewis Carroll invented an alphabet he could write in the dark.

Sources for our feature on the murder of Lord William Russell:

Yseult Bridges, Two Studies in Crime, 1959.

Claire Harman, Murder by the Book: The Crime That Shocked Dickens's London, 2019.

Thomas Dunphy and Thomas J. Cummins, Remarkable Trials of All Countries, 1870.

J.E. Latton Pickering, Report of the Trial of Courvoisier for the Murder of Lord William Russell, June 1840, 1918.

William Harrison Ainsworth, Jack Sheppard: A Romance, 1839.

"Remarkable Cases of Circumstantial Evidence," in Norman Wise Sibley, Criminal Appeal and Evidence, 1908.

Samuel Warren, "The Mystery of Murder, and Its Defence," in Miscellanies, Critical, Imaginative, and Juridical, 1855, 237-271.

"Trial, Confession, and Execution of Courvoisier for the Murder of Lord Wm. Russell: Memoir of F.B. Courvoisier, Lord W. Russell's Valet [broadside]," 1840.

"Russell, Lord William (1767-1840)," in D.R. Fisher, ed., The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1820-1832, 2009.

"The Practice of Advocacy: Mr. Charles Phillips, and His Defence of Courvoisier," Littell's Living Age 25:313 (May 18, 1850), 289-311.

"English Causes Celebres," Legal News 14:39 (Sept. 26, 1891), 310-311.

O'Neill Ryan, "The Courvoisier Case," Washington University Law Review 12:1 (January 1926), 39-46.

Michael Asimow, "When the Lawyer Knows the Client Is Guilty: Legal Ethics, and Popular Culture," Law Society of Upper Canada 6th Colloquium, University of Toronto Faculty of Law 10 (2006).

J.B. Atlay, "Famous Trials: The Queen Against Courvoisier," Cornhill Magazine 2:11 (May 1897), 604-616.

Paul Bergman, "Rumpole's Ethics," Berkeley Journal of Entertainment and Sports Law 1:2 (April 2012), 117-124.

Abigail Droge, "'Always Called Jack': A Brief History of the Transferable Skill," Victorian Periodicals Review 50:1 (Spring 2017) 39-65, 266.

Albert D. Pionke, "Navigating 'Those Terrible Meshes of the Law': Legal Realism in Anthony Trollope's Orley Farm and The Eustace Diamonds," ELH: Journal of English Literary History 77:1 (2010), 129-157.

Matthew S. Buckley, "Sensations of Celebrity: Jack Sheppard and the Mass Audience," Victorian Studies 44:3 (2002), 423-463.

Elizabeth Stearns, "A 'Darling of the Mob': The Antidisciplinarity of the Jack Sheppard Texts," Victorian Literature and Culture 41:3 (2013), 435-461.

Ellen L. O'Brien, "'Every Man Who Is Hanged Leaves a Poem': Criminal Poets in Victorian Street Ballads," Victorian Poetry 39:2 (Summer 2001), 319-342.

Matthew Buckley, "Sensations of Celebrity: Jack Sheppard and the Mass Audience," Victorian Studies 44:3 (Spring 2002), 423-463.

"This Day's Examination of the Valet for the Murder of Lord William Russell, M.P.," 1840, English Crime and Execution Broadsides, Harvard Digital Collections.

Peter Dean, "Death by Servant," Daily Mail, May 18, 2019, 12.

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, "The Victorian Melodrama That Led to Murder and Mayhem," Spectator, Nov. 10, 2018.

Hannah Rosefield, "The Strange Victorian Murder of Lord William Russell," New Statesman, Oct. 31, 2018.

"Look Death in the Face," [Liverpool] Daily Post, Sept. 1, 2018, 12.

Alexandra Mullen, "Bloody-Minded Victorians," Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2013.

Dalya Alberge, "Vital Clue Ignored for 50 Years," Independent, Dec. 9, 2012.

"Murder of Lord William Russell -- Confession of the Murderer," Sydney Herald, Oct. 20, 1840, 3.

"Murder of Lord William Russell," New-Orleans Commercial Bulletin, June 16, 1840.

"Further Evidence Concerning the Murder of Lord William Russell," Spectator, May 23, 1840, 7.

"Francois Benjamin Courvoisier: Killing: Murder," Proceedings of the Old Bailey, June 15, 1840 (accessed Aug. 4, 2019).

Annalisa Quinn, "Could A Novel Lead Someone To Kill? 'Murder By The Book' Explores The Notion," National Public Radio, March 27, 2019.

Listener mail:

"Local Elections Results," Irish Times, Aug. 17, 2019.

Wikipedia, "List of Political Parties in the Republic of Ireland," (accessed Aug. 8, 2019).

Wikipedia, "List of Political Parties in the United States" (accessed Aug. 9, 2019).

Wikipedia, "United States Marijuana Party" (accessed Aug. 9, 2019).

Wikipedia, "United States Congress" (accessed Aug. 8, 2019).

Justin McCurry, "South Korea Mulls Ending Arcane Age System to Match Rest of World," Guardian, June 2, 2019.

James Griffiths and Yoonjung Seo, "In South Korea, You're a 1-Year-Old the Day You're Born. Some Want to Change That," CNN, June 3, 2019.

Beatrice Christofaro, "In South Korea's Unique Aging System, Some Babies Turn 2 Years Old the Day After They Were Born. A Bill Is Trying to Change That," Insider, Jun. 3, 2019.

"Life Term in Murder Contested; Culture Cited on Age," KDKA Pittsburgh, Aug. 7, 2019.

James Halpin, "Killer Claims Ignorance of Korean Age Custom," Citizens' Voice, Aug. 8, 2019.

James Halpin, "Killer Blames Culture Quirk for Age Miscalculation," Citizens' Voice, Aug. 7, 2019.

Wikipedia, "National Assembly (South Korea)" (accessed Aug. 11, 2019).

Penelope's drawing:

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Ken Murphy.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Aug 19, 2019
260-The Rugged Road
32:56

In 1934, two Englishwomen set out to do what no one had ever done before: travel the length of Africa on a motorcycle. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow Theresa Wallach and Florence Blenkiron from Algiers to Cape Town on a 14,000-mile adventure that many had told them was impossible.

We'll also anticipate some earthquakes and puzzle over a daughter's age.

Intro:

Among the survivors of the Titanic were two boys who were unclaimed by any adult.

In 1638, Galileo saw through a mistake in Aristotle simply by thinking about it.

Sources for our feature on Theresa Wallach and Florence Blenkiron's trans-African odyssey:

Theresa Wallach, The Rugged Road, 2001.

Steven E. Alford and Suzanne Ferriss, Motorcycle, 2007.

Iain Burns, "The British Women Who Conquered the Sahara," Daily Mail, Jan. 22, 2018.

Miles Davis, "Incredible Journeys," Walneck's Classic Cycle Trader 267 (June 2006), 143-145.

"Theresa Wallach – Motorcycle Pioneer of the 1930s," Archives Blog, Institution of Engineering and Technology (accessed July 28, 2019).

"Through Africa by Motor-Cycle (1934-1935)," Africa Overland Network, July 9, 2014.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Earthquake Warning System" (accessed July 27, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Earthquake Early Warning (Japan)" (accessed July 27, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Mexican Seismic Alert System" (accessed August 1, 2019).

Wikipedia, "2017 Puebla Earthquake" (accessed August 1, 2019).

"Earthquake Early Warning System," Japan Meteorological Agency.

Sarah E. Minson, et al., "The Limits of Earthquake Early Warning Accuracy and Best Alerting Strategy: Discussion," Scientific Reports 9:1 (Feb. 21, 2019), 2478.

Sarah E. Minson, et al., "The Limits of Earthquake Early Warning: Timeliness of Ground Motion Estimates," Science Advances 4:3 (March 21, 2018), eaaq0504.

"Earthquake Early Warning," United States Geological Survey.

"Earthquake Early Warning: Background," United States Geological Survey.

Mary Halton, "How Effective Are Earthquake Early Warning Systems?," BBC News, March 24, 2018.

Jonathan Amos, "Are Mexico's Two September Earthquakes Connected?," BBC News, Sept. 20, 2017.

"How Did Mexico's Early Warning System Perform During Recent Earthquakes?," Seismological Society of America, Feb. 7, 2018.

"False Earthquake Warning Panics Japan," BBC, Jan. 5, 2018.

ShakeAlert.

Richard M. Allen, et al., "Lessons From Mexico's Earthquake Early Warning System," Eos, Sept. 17, 2018.

Mary Beth Griggs, "LA's Earthquake Warning System Worked — Just Not How People Expected," The Verge, July 5, 2019.

Emily Baumgaertner, "L.A.'S ShakeAlert Earthquake Warning App Worked Exactly as Planned. That's the Problem," Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2019.

Alex Dobuzinskis, "California Expanding Early Quake Detection and Warning System," Reuters, July 9, 2019.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Paul Schoeps.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Aug 12, 2019
259-The Astor Place Riot
35:00

The second-bloodiest riot in the history of New York was touched off by a dispute between two Shakespearean actors. Their supporters started a brawl that killed as many as 30 people and changed the institution of theater in American society. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Astor Place riot, "one of the strangest episodes in dramatic history."

We'll also fertilize a forest and puzzle over some left-handed light bulbs.

Intro:

In 1968, mathematician Dietrich Braess found that installing a traffic shortcut can actually lengthen the average journey.

What key is "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" written in?

Sources for our feature on the Astor Place riot:

Nigel Cliff, The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth-Century America, 2007.

Richard Moody, The Astor Place Riot, 1958.

Lawrence Barrett, Edwin Forrest, 1881.

Joel Tyler Headley, Pen and Pencil Sketches of the Great Riots, 1873.

H.M. Ranney, Account of the Terrific and Fatal Riot at the New-York Astor Place Opera House, 1849.

Leo Hershkowitz, "An Anatomy of a Riot: Astor Place Opera House, 1849," New York History 87:3 (Summer 2006), 277-311.

Bill Kauffman, "New York's Opera House Brawl," American Enterprise 13:4 (June 2002), 51.

M. Alison Kibler, "'Freedom of the Theatre' and 'Practical Censorship': Two Theater Riots in the Early Twentieth Century," OAH Magazine of History 24:2 (April 2010), 15-19.

Edgar Scott, "Edwin Forrest, First Star of the American Stage," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 84 (1960), 495-497.

Adam I.P. Smith, "The Politics of Theatrical Reform in Victorian America," American Nineteenth Century History 13:3, 321-346.

Daniel J. Walkowitz, "'The Gangs of New York': The Mean Streets in History," History Workshop Journal 56 (Autumn 2003), 204-209.

Gretchen Sween, "Rituals, Riots, Rules, and Rights: The Astor Place Theater Riot of 1849 and the Evolving Limits of Free Speech," Texas Law Review 81:2 (December 2002), 679-713.

Michael J. Collins, "'The Rule of Men Entirely Great': Republicanism, Ritual, and Richelieu in Melville's 'The Two Temples,'" Comparative American Studies 10:4 (December 2012), 304-317.

Loren Kruger, "Our Theater? Stages in an American Cultural History," American Literary History 8:4 (Winter 1996), 699-714.

Dennis Berthold, "Class Acts: The Astor Place Riots and Melville's 'The Two Temples,'" American Literature 71:3 (September 1999), 429-461.

Cary M. Mazer, "Shakespearean Scraps," American Literary History 21:2 (Summer 2009), 316-323.

Barbara Foley, "From Wall Street to Astor Place: Historicizing Melville's 'Bartleby,'" American Literature 72:1 (March 2000), 87-116.

Neil Smith, "Imperial Errantry," Geographical Review 102:4 (October 2012), 553-555.

Betsy Golden Kellem, "When New York City Rioted Over Hamlet Being Too British," Smithsonian.com, July 19, 2017.

Amanda Foreman, "A Night at the Theater Often Used to Be a Riot," Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2015.

Scott McCabe, "At Least 22 Killed in Astor Place Riots," [Washington, D.C.] Examiner, May 10, 2011.

Timothy J. Gilfoyle, "A Theatrical Rivalry That Sparked a Riot," Chicago Tribune, April 22, 2007, 14.11.

Paul Lieberman, "The Original Star; On His 200th Birthday, America's First 'Celebrity' Actor, Edwin Forrest, Still Has Fans," Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2006, E.1.

Michael Grunwald, "Shakespeare in Hate; 150 Years Ago, 23 People Died In a Riot Over 'Macbeth,'" Washington Post, March 28, 1999, G01.

Mel Gussow, "Richard A. Moody, 84, American-Theater Expert," New York Times, April 4, 1996.

Frank Rich, "War of Hams Where the Stage Is All," New York Times, Jan. 17, 1992.

"Theater: When 'Macbeth' Shook the World of Astor Place," New York Times, Jan. 12, 1992.

"The Biggest Publicity Coup in the History of the Stage," New York Tribune, May 4, 1913, 4.

"Death of an Aged Actress," New York Times, March 17, 1880.

J. Brander Matthews, "W.C. Macready," Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly 10 (1880), 97-101.

"The Astor Place Riots," New York Times, April 11, 1875.

"An Old Story Retold; The Astor Place Riot -- Reminiscences of Macready," New York Times, April 3, 1875.

"Dreadful Riot and Bloodshed in New York," British Colonist, May 23, 1849.

"Remembering New York City's Opera Riots," Weekend Edition Saturday, National Public Radio, May 13, 2006.

Listener mail:

M. Ben-David, T.A. Hanley, and D.M. Schell, "Fertilization of Terrestrial Vegetation by Spawning Pacific Salmon: The Role of Flooding and Predator Activity," OIKOS 83 (1998), 47-55.

James M. Helfield and Robert J. Naiman, "Effects of Salmon-Derived Nitrogen on Riparian Forest Growth and Implications for Stream Productivity," Ecology 82:9 (2001), 2403-2409.

Wikipedia, "Salmon" (accessed July 13, 2019).

Paul Clements, "An Irishman's Diary on Football Legend Danny Blanchflower," Irish Times, April 11, 2015.

"Danny Blanchflower Keeps His Life to Himself," Guardian, Feb. 7, 1961.

Alex Finnis, "Jersey Is Being Terrorised by 100-Strong Gangs of Feral Chickens Waking Up Locals and Chasing Joggers," i, June 18, 2019.

"Jersey Residents Annoyed by Feral Chickens," BBC, July 6, 2018.

"Channel Islands Residents Cry Foul Over Feral Chickens," Morning Edition, National Public Radio, June 28, 2019.

Daniel Avery, "Gang of 100 Feral Chickens Terrorizing Town," Newsweek, July 2, 2019.

Will Stewart, "Russian Hermit Cut Off From World Refuses to Leave Despite Rocket Debris Fears," Mirror, June 21, 2019.

"Siberian Hermit, 75, Who 'Lives in 18th Century' Refuses to Be Moved by Space Age," Siberian Times, June 21, 2019.

A bridge of Königsberg (now Kaliningrad), from listener Alex Baumans:

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Greg. Here are two corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Aug 05, 2019
258-The First Great Train Robbery
33:55

In 1855 a band of London thieves set their sights on a new target: the South Eastern Railway, which carried gold bullion to the English coast. The payoff could be enormous, but the heist would require meticulous planning. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the first great train robbery, one of the most audacious crimes of the 19th century.

We'll also jump into the record books and puzzle over a changing citizen.

Intro:

British birdwatcher Chris Watson discovered Scottish starlings memorializing forgotten farm machinery.

Can a psychotic patient's "sane" self consent to a procedure on his "insane" self?

Sources for our feature on the great gold robbery of 1855:

David C. Hanrahan, The First Great Train Robbery, 2011.

Donald Thomas, The Victorian Underworld, 1998.

Adrian Gray, Crime & Criminals of Victorian England, 2011.

Jonathan Oates, Great Train Crimes: Murder & Robbery on the Railways, 2010.

G.A. Sekon, The History of the South-Eastern Railway, 1895.

David Morier Evans, Facts, Failures, and Frauds: Revelations, Financial, Mercantile, Criminal, 1859.

Michael Robbins, "The Great South-Eastern Bullion Robbery," The Railway Magazine 101:649 (May 1955), 315–317.

"The Story of a Great Bullion Robbery," Chambers's Journal 2:59 (Jan. 14, 1899), 109-112.

"Law Intelligence," Railway Times 19:46 (Nov. 15, 1856), 1355.

"Chronicle: January, 1857," Annual Register, 1857.

"The Gold Dust Robbery," New York Times, Nov. 12, 1876.

"Edward Agar: Deception: Forgery, 22nd October 1855," Proceedings of the Old Bailey (accessed July 19, 2019).

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Kiwi Campus" (accessed July 14, 2019).

Carolyn Said, "Kiwibots Win Fans at UC Berkeley as They Deliver Fast Food at Slow Speeds," San Francisco Chronicle, May 26, 2019.

Kalev Leetaru, "Today's Deep Learning Is Like Magic -- In All the Wrong Ways," Forbes, July 8, 2019.

James Vincent, "The State of AI in 2019," The Verge, Jan. 28, 2019.

Wikipedia, "Carl Lewis" (July 9, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Wind Assistance" (accessed July 14, 2019).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Wayne Yuen. Here are two corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jul 29, 2019
257-The Sledge Patrol
32:57

In 1943 an isolated sledge patrol came upon a secret German weather station in northeastern Greenland. The discovery set off a series of dramatic incidents that unfolded across 400 miles of desolate coast. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow this arctic struggle, an often overlooked drama of World War II.

We'll also catch some speeders and puzzle over a disastrous remedy.

Intro:

In 1970 the Journal of Organic Chemistry published a paper in blank verse.

In 1899 the Journal of Mental Science described a man who cycled in his sleep.

Sources for our feature on the North-East Greenland Sledge Patrol:

David Howarth, The Sledge Patrol, 1957.

Mark Llewellyn Evans, Great World War II Battles in the Arctic, 1999.

John McCannon, A History of the Arctic: Nature, Exploration and Exploitation, 2012.

Bjørnar Olsen and Þóra Pétursdóttir, Ruin Memories: Materialities, Aesthetics and the Archaeology of the Recent Past, 2014.

Spencer Apollonio, Lands That Hold One Spellbound: A Story of East Greenland, 2008.

Jens Fog Jensen and Tilo Krause, "Wehrmacht Occupations in the New World: Archaeological and Historical Investigations in Northeast Greenland," Polar Record 48:3 (2012), 269-279.

Leif Vanggaard, "The Effects of Exhaustive Military Activities in Man: The Performance of Small Isolated Military Units in Extreme Environmental Conditions," Royal Danish Navy Gentofte (Denmark) Danish Armed Forces Health Services, 2001.

"History: The Sledge Patrol," Arctic Journal, April 6, 2017.

M.J. Dunbar, "Greenland During and Since the Second World War," International Journal 5:2 (Spring 1950), 121-140.

Maria Ackrén and Uffe Jakobsen, "Greenland as a Self-Governing Sub-National Territory in International Relations: Past, Current and Future Perspectives," Polar Record 51:4 (July 2015), 404-412.

Anthony K. Higgins, "Exploration History and Place Names of Northern East Greenland," Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Bulletin 21, 2010.

David Howarth, "Secrets of the Unknown War," Saturday Evening Post 230:9 (Aug. 31, 1957), 30-90.

Stephan Wilkinson, "10 Great POW Escapes," Military History 28:4 (November 2011), 28-33.

Denver David Robinson, "The World's Most Unusual Military Unit," Christian Science Monitor, June 22, 2016.

Robert P. Sables, "Coast Guard Emergency Acquisitions in WWII," Sea Classics 36:10 (October 2003), 12.

"News From the Field," American Foreign Service Journal 21:7 (July 1944), 363, 397.

Joe Alex Morris, "The Nazis Get Licked in Greenland," Saturday Evening Post 216:35 (Feb. 26, 1944), 16-86.

Kevin L. Jamison, "The Sledge Patrol: A WWII Epic of Escape, Survival and Victory [review]," Military Review 83:4 (July/August 2003), 67.

Denver David Robinson, "The Men on the Ice," Boston Globe, March 19, 2016, 1.

"Danes Get Merit Medals; Group Is Honored for Reporting Nazi Base in Greenland," New York Times, June 10, 1944.

Sidney Shalett, "Secret Nazi Base in Arctic Erased; U.S. Planes and Coast Guard Discover and Destroy Radio Station Off Greenland," New York Times, Nov. 10, 1943.

Eric Niderost, "The Weather War of WWII," Warfare History Network, Dec. 11, 2018.

Listener mail:

"Debate to Decide How 'Shrewsbury' Should be Pronounced?", BBC News, July 2, 2015.

"Shroosbury Voted the Triumphant Pronunciation in Charity Debate," University Centre Shrewsbury, July 3, 2015.

"What Means 'Strekningsmåling' on Norwegian Roads?", Travel Blog Europe, June 19, 2018.

Tanya Mohn, "Does The U.S. Take Road Safety Seriously? The Low Cost of Traffic Violations Suggests We Don't," Forbes, Nov. 27, 2018.

"BBC's 'Top Gear' Allegedly Caught Speeding Through Norway at 151 MPH," Fox News, June 26, 2017.

"Norway," Speeding Europe, July 7, 2019.

Wikipedia, "SPECS (speed camera)" (accessed July 3, 2019).

"Speed Cameras Catch One Million Offenders on A2 and A12 Last Year," DutchNews.nl, Feb. 7, 2018.

Patrick Scott and Ellie Kempster, "A Record Two Million Speeding Tickets Were Handed Out Last Year -- How Punitive Are the Roads You Drive on?", Telegraph, Oct. 25, 2018.

Wikipedia, "Pit Stop" (accessed July 4, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Denny Hulme" (accessed July 4, 2019).

"Denny Hulme," New Zealand History, Nov. 8, 2017.

"Denny Hulme," ESPN (accessed July 4, 2019).

Susan Orlean, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011.

Susan Orlean, "The Dog Star," New Yorker, Aug. 22, 2011.

Bruce Davis, "No, Rin Tin Tin Didn't Really Win the First Best Actor Oscar," The Wrap, Feb. 15, 2017.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Greg. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jul 15, 2019
256-Lasseter's Reef
31:36

In 1930 Harold Lasseter claimed he'd discovered an enormous deposit of gold in the remote interior of Australia, and a small group of men set off into the punishing desert in search of a fortune estimated at 66 million pounds. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of Lasseter's reef, one of the most enduring legends of the Australian outback.

We'll also reconsider the mortality rates of presidents and puzzle over an unlocked door.

Intro:

Where is pain?

In the early 1800s a Frenchman known as Tarrare gained fame for eating practically anything.

Sources for our feature on Lasseter's reef:

David Hill, Gold!: The Fever That Forever Changed Australia, 2010.

Ion Llewellyn Idriess, Lasseter's Last Ride, 1940.

National Library of Australia, National Treasures from Australia's Great Libraries, 2005.

Andrew Bain, "Lasseter's Footsteps," Australian Geographic 69 (January-March 2003), 100.

Declan Cooley, "Gladstone Man's Massive Gold Find Claim, Needs Mining Giant," [Gladstone, Queensland] Observer, Feb. 24, 2017.

Simon Caterson, "Lasseter's Gold: Search for Reef a Sparkling Story by Warren Brown," Australian, Sept. 5, 2015.

Warren Brown, "Lasseter's Gold: Could Letter Finally Solve the Mystery of Dead Explorer Harold Lasseter and Gold Treasure?" Sunday Telegraph, Sept. 12, 2015.

Bob Watt, "Battered Suitcase Reveals a Rich History," Northern Territory News, May 3, 2015, 38.

"Google Earth Helps in Hunt for Lasseter's Reef of Gold," Sunshine Coast Daily, July 2, 2013, 2.

Kathy Marks, "El Dorado 'Found' on Google Earth," Independent, June 30, 2013.

"Lasseter's Legendary Reef of Gold Still Beckoning Aussie 'Battlers,'" New Zealand Herald, June 22, 2013, B.4.

Nicole Hasham, "Google Puts Gold on Map for Mates Seeking Lasseter's Reef," Sydney Morning Herald, Nov. 10, 2012, 10.

Sally Brooks, "Lasseter's Reef: Rock Samples Gold Test Riddle," Centralian Advocate, Nov. 11, 2011, 5.

"NT: eBay Map Could Hold Key to Lasseter's Reef," AAP General News Wire, Sept. 27, 2011.

Mark Day, "Lasseter's Legendary Gold Still Beckons," Weekend Australian, Sept. 24, 2011, 5.

Penelope Bergen, "Alice Focus in Hunt for Lasseter's Reef," Centralian Advocate, May 4, 2010, 3.

Alison Bevege, "'I've Found Lasseter's Reef,'" [Brisbane] Courier-Mail, May 10, 2007.

Penelope Bergen, "Lasseter's Reef Is Real, Claims Son," ABC Rural, April 13, 2010.

"Lasseter's Reef Remains Legend," Gold Coast Bulletin, July 15, 2006, 13.

Rebel Black, "In the Footsteps of a Famous Father," Daily Telegraph, June 1, 2002, 13.

Noula Tsavdaridis, "Lasseter's Reef: Fabulous Fortune or Fool's Gold," Daily Telegraph, Jan. 24, 2002, 27.

"Outback Treasure Australian Firm May Be on Trail of Gold Deposit," Reuters, Sept. 6, 1990, 3D.

"Has Lasseter's Reef Been Found?" Australian Women's Weekly, Oct. 26, 1935.

"Gold Rush in Desert Is Aided by Planes," Chicago Tribune, Nov. 14, 1932.

"Geologist Gets Trace of Fabulous Gold Reef; Will Face Australian Desert Perils to Find It," New York Times, May 25, 1931.

In a sense, Lasseter has never ceased his search -- above his grave in an Alice Springs cemetery is a statue perpetually assaying the desert sands. It bears an inscription by Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts, or how the strong man stumbled and fell
or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena
who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion
and spends himself in a worthy cause.
If he fails, he fails by daring greatly,
So that he will never be one of those cold and timid souls
who knew neither victory or defeat.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Mortality Rate" (accessed June 27, 2019).

"Measures of Risk: Mortality Frequency Measures," Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006.

"Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities: Dangerous Jobs," Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 28, 2018.

Guy A. Toscano, "Dangerous Jobs," Compensation and Working Conditions 2 (Summer 1997), 57-60.

"National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2017," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dec. 18, 2018.

Michael B. Sauter and Charles Stockdale, "25 Most Dangerous Jobs in America," 24/7 Wall St., Jan. 2, 2019.

Wikipedia, "Remembrance of the Daleks: Filming and Effects" (accessed June 24, 2019).

"These 10 Towns in Idaho Have the Most Bizarre Names," Only in Your State, Jan. 21, 2016.

Wikipedia, "Dickshooter, Idaho" (accessed June 29, 2019).

"Tobar, Nevada," Howard Hickson's Histories, Great Basin College, Nevada, 2005.

Wikipedia, "Eagle, Alaska" (accessed July 1, 2019).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Gregory LeBlanc. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jul 08, 2019
255-Death on the Ice
34:07

In 1914, 132 sealers found themselves stranded on a North Atlantic icefield as a bitter blizzard approached. Thinly dressed and with little food, they faced a harrowing night on the ice. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Newfoundland sealing disaster, one of the most dramatic chapters in Canadian maritime history.

We'll also meet another battlefield dog and puzzle over a rejected necklace.

Intro:

England has seen some curious cricket matches.

In 1940 two Australian planes collided in midair and landed as one.

Above: Crewmembers carry bodies aboard the Bellaventure. Sources for our feature on the 1914 sealing disaster:

Cassie Brown, Death on the Ice: The Great Newfoundland Sealing Disaster of 1914, 2015.

Melvin Baker, "The Struggle for Influence and Power: William Coaker, Abram Kean, and the Newfoundland Sealing Industry, 1908–1915," Newfoundland and Labrador Studies 28:1 (2013).

Willeen Keough, "(Re-) Telling Newfoundland Sealing Masculinity: Narrative and Counter-Narrative," Journal of the Canadian Historical Association/Revue de la Société historique du Canada 21:1 (2010), 131-150.

R.M. Kennedy, "National Dreams and Inconsolable Losses: The Burden of Melancholia in Newfoundland Culture," in Despite This Loss: Essays on Culture, Memory, and Identity in Newfoundland and Labrador, 2010, 103-116.

Kjell-G. Kjær, "Where Have All the Barque Rigged Sealers Gone?", Polar Record 44:3 (July 2008), 265-275.

Helen Peters, "Shannon Ryan, The Ice Hunters: A History of Newfoundland Sealing to 1914, Newfoundland History Series 8 [review]," Newfoundland and Labrador Studies 12:1 (1996).

Raymond Blake, "Sean Cadigan, Death on Two Fronts: National Tragedies and the Fate of Democracy in Newfoundland, 1914–34 [review]," Newfoundland and Labrador Studies 30:1 (2015).

Michael Harrington and Barbara Moon, "Tragedy on Ice: One of the Most Dramatic Disasters in Canadian History Occurred on the Newfoundland Ice Floes in 1914," Maclean's 113:48 (Nov. 27, 2000), 76.

"Disaster on the Ice," [Winnipeg] Beaver 89:3 (June/July 2009), 22-23.

Guy Ray, "Seal Wars," Canadian Geographic 120:2 (January/February 2000), 36-48.

Jenny Higgins, "1914 Sealing Disaster," The [Newfoundland and Labrador] Independent, April 1, 2011.

Sue Bailey, "Newfoundland Marks 1914 Sealing Disaster With Father and Son's Frozen Embrace," Guelph Mercury, March 30, 2014.

"Frozen Embrace to Mark 1914 Tragedy at Sea," Prince George [B.C.] Citizen, March 31, 2014, A.13.

"The 1914 Sealing Disaster: 100 Years Later," CBC News, March 30, 2014.

Francine Kopun, "Gale of 1914 Proved Deadly," Toronto Star, April 24, 2007, A8.

Tim B. Rogers, "The Sinking of the Southern Cross," [Winnipeg] Beaver 89:3 (June/July 2009), 16-22.

Alison Auld and Michael MacDonald, "Questions Raised About Coast Guard's Actions in Fatal Sealing Accident," Canadian Press, March 29, 2008.

Joanna Dawson, "Newfoundland's 1914 Sealing Disaster," Canada's History, March 31, 2014.

Sean T. Cadigan, "Tuff, George," Dictionary of Canadian Biography (accessed June 16, 2019).

"The 1914 Sealing Disaster," Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage (accessed June 16, 2019).

Wes Kean and the S.S. Newfoundland.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Rin Tin Tin" (accessed June 19, 2019).

Michael Schaub, "'Rin Tin Tin': The Dog Who Never Died," National Public Radio, Sept. 29, 2011.

Linda Holmes, "Rin Tin Tin: From Battlefield to Hollywood, a Story of Friendship," Weekend Edition Saturday, National Public Radio, Sept. 24, 2011.

John Banville, "Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean – review," Guardian, Feb. 2, 2012.

Wikipedia, "The Lighthouse by the Sea" (accessed June 21, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Political Colour" (accessed June 17, 2019).

"Why Is the Conservative Party Blue?" BBC News, April 20, 2006.

Wikipedia, "Red States and Blue States" (accessed June 22, 2019).

Stephen Battaglio, "When Red Meant Democratic and Blue Was Republican," Los Angeles Times, Nov. 3, 2016.

Ruaridh Arrow, "Gene Sharp: Author of the Nonviolent Revolution Rulebook," BBC News, Feb. 21, 2011.

"Commentary: Braille Restaurant Menus Are Still Hard to Find," Chicago Lighthouse (accessed June 22, 2019).

Sophie Meixner and Tara Cassidy, "Braille on the Menu to Accommodate Blind and Vision Impaired Patrons," ABC News, June 1, 2018.

Josh Haskell and Armando Barragan, "Blind Monrovia Student Creates Braille Menus for Local Restaurants," KABC-TV Los Angeles, May 11, 2019.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listeners Jeff and Emmett Moxon.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jul 01, 2019
254-The Porthole Murder
32:25

In 1947 actress Gay Gibson disappeared from her cabin on an ocean liner off the coast of West Africa. The deck steward, James Camb, admitted to pushing her body out a porthole, but insisted she had died of natural causes and not in a sexual assault. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review the curious case of the porthole murder, which is still raising doubts today.

We'll also explore another fraudulent utopia and puzzle over a pedestrian's victory.

Intro:

Soldiers in World War I described "shell sense" -- an uncanny foreknowledge of imminent shellfire.

British artist Patrick Hughes creates three-dimensional paintings that reverse the traditional rules of perspective.

Sources for our feature on the death of Gay Gibson:

Geoffrey Clark, ed., Trial of James Camb, 1949.

Colin Evans, The Casebook of Forensic Detection: How Science Solved 100 of the World's Most Baffling Crimes, 2007.

Robin Odell and Wilfred Gregg, Murderers' Row: An International Murderers' Who's Who, 2011.

J.F. Northey, "Murder. Proof of Corpus Delicti," Modern Law Review 15:3 (July 1952), 348-351.

Lee Aitken, "Interpreting R V Baden-Clay: 'Discovering the Inward Intention', or 'What Lies Under the Veil'?", University of Queensland Law Journal 35:2 (2016) 301-311.

Robert Kennaugh, "Proving Murder Without a Body," De Rebus Procuratoriis 1969:24 (1969), 485-491.

Basil Hearde, "The Vanished Redhead in Cabin 126," Sea Classics 35:2 (February 2002), 54.

T. Mervyn Jones, "Trial of James Camb (The Port-Hole Murder) by Geoffrey Clark [review]," Cambridge Law Journal 10:3 (1950), 492-494.

H.A. Hammelmann, "The Trial of James Camb by Geoffrey Clark [review]," Modern Law Review 13:4 (October 1950), 546-547.

Richard Latto, "Porthole Murder: Did Gay Gibson Die From Natural Causes?", BBC News, March 22, 2018.

Laura Connor, "The Lady Vanishes," Paisley [Scotland] Daily Express, April 7, 2018, 8.

John Macklin, "Deathly Nightmare Comes True; The Murder He Saw in His Dreams Was Soon to Become a Brutal Fact," [Moncton, N.B.] Times & Transcript, Nov. 30, 2002.

"Murder Most Foul on Durban Castle: Liner Gains Notoriety After 'Porthole Killer' Dumps Woman's Body Overboard," [Durban, South Africa] Independent on Saturday, May 30, 2015, 11.

"Murder Conviction Without a Body," [Wellington, New Zealand] Dominion Post, May 5, 2018, A.8.

Listener mail:

Cory Turner and Clare Lombardo, "The Town That Hanged an Elephant Is Now Working to Save Them," All Things Considered, National Public Radio, May 15, 2019.

Bill Metcalf, "Utopian Fraud: The Marquis de Rays and La Nouvelle-France," Utopian Studies 22:1 (2011), 104-124.

Jordan Goodman, "Phantom Pacific Paradise: Was the Marquis De Rays' New France a Cleverly Plotted Scam or a Fantasy That Went Horribly Wrong?" Geographical 83:6 (June 2011), 26.

Wikipedia, "Marquis de Rays" (accessed June 13, 2019).

Wikipedia, "De Rays Expedition" (accessed June 13, 2019).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Karl Hiscock. Here are two related links.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jun 24, 2019
253-The Dame of Sark
31:54

In June 1940, German forces took the Channel Islands, a small British dependency off the coast of France. They expected the occupation to go easily, but they hadn't reckoned on the island of Sark, ruled by an iron-willed noblewoman with a disdain for Nazis. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of Sibyl Hathaway and her indomitable stand against the Germans.

We'll also overtake an earthquake and puzzle over an inscrutable water pipe.

Intro:

Raymond Chandler gave 10 rules for writing a detective novel.

In 1495 Leonardo da Vinci designed a mechanical knight.

Sources for our feature on Sybil Hathaway:

Sybil Hathaway, Dame of Sark: An Autobiography, 1961.

Alan and Mary Wood, Islands in Danger: The Story of the German Occupation of the Channel Islands, 1940-1945, 1955.

Gilly Carr, Paul Sanders, and Louise Willmot, Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands, 2014.

Madeleine Bunting, The Model Occupation: The Channel Islands Under German Rule, 1940-1945, 2014.

Roy MacLoughlin, Living With the Enemy: An Outline of the German Occupation of the Channel Islands With First Hand Accounts by People Who Remember the Years 1940 to 1945, 2002.

Cheryl R. Jorgensen-Earp, Discourse and Defiance Under Nazi Occupation: Guernsey, Channel Islands, 1940-1945, 2013.

Hazel Knowles Smith, The Changing Face of the Channel Islands Occupation: Record, Memory and Myth, 2014.

George Forty, German Occupation of the Channel Islands, 2002.

Paul Sanders, The British Channel Islands Under German Occupation, 1940-1945, 2005.

George Forty, Channel Islands at War: A German Perspective, 2005.

Gilly Carr, "Shining a Light on Dark Tourism: German Bunkers in the British Channel Islands," Public Archaeology 9:2 (2010), 64-84.

Gillian Carr, "The Archaeology of Occupation and the V-Sign Campaign in the Occupied British Channel Islands," International Journal of Historical Archaeology 14:4 (2010), 575-592.

Gilly Carr, "Occupation Heritage, Commemoration and Memory in Guernsey and Jersey," History and Memory 24:1 (Spring 2012), 87-117, 178.

Gilly Carr, "Concrete's Memory: Positioning Ghosts of War in the Channel Islands," Terrain 69 (April 2018).

Peter Tabb, "'You and I Will Eat Grass ...,'" History Today 55:5 (May 2005), 2-3.

Paul Sanders, "Managing Under Duress: Ethical Leadership, Social Capital and the Civilian Administration of the British Channel Islands During the Nazi Occupation, 1940-1945," Journal of Business Ethics 93, Supplement 1 (2010), 113-129.

Lucas Reilly, "How the World's Only Feudal Lord Outclassed the Nazis to Save Her People," Mental Floss, Nov. 6, 2018.

"Dame of Sark, 90, Ruler of Channel Island, Dead," New York Times, July 15, 1974.

John Darnton, "St. Helier Journal; Facing Nazis, Upper Lips Were Not Always Stiff," New York Times, May 6, 1995.

Robert Philpot, "New Film on Nazi Occupation of Channel Islands Prompts Disquieting Questions for Brits," Times of Israel, April 13, 2017.

Francesca Street, "Radio Tower: Jersey's Former German WWII Gun Tower Now for Rent," CNN, Aug. 28, 2018.

Liza Foreman, "The Crazy Medieval Island of Sark," Daily Beast, Oct. 4, 2014.

Julie Carpenter, "John Nettles: 'Telling the Truth About Channel Islands Cost Me My Friends,'" Express, Nov. 5, 2012.

Ben Johnson, "Sark, Channel Islands," Historic UK (accessed June 2, 2019).

William D. Montalbano, "Nazi Occupation in WWII Haunts Islands Off Britain," Los Angeles Times, Nov. 29, 1996.

Graham Heathcote, "Quiet Occupation by German Troops on Britain’s Channel Islands," Associated Press, May 9, 1995.

William Tuohy, "Britain Files Reveal a Dark Chapter of War Years Nazis Occupied the Channel Islands Until Mid-1945, and Many Residents Collaborated," Los Angeles Times, Dec. 5, 1992, 3.

Marcus Binney, "Release of War Files Reopens the Wounds of Nazi Occupation," Times, Dec. 2, 1992.

Julia Pascal, "Comment & Analysis: Our Hidden History: Sixty Years After the Deportation of Britons from the Channel Islands, the Suffering Is Neither Acknowledged Nor Compensated," Guardian, Sept. 5, 2002, 1.23.

Ray Clancy, "War Files Show How Alderney Was Left Alone Against Nazis," Times, Dec. 2, 1992.

William Montalbano, "Nazi Reports Raise Islands' Painful Past: Channel Islands' Invasion Created Moral Dilemmas," Toronto Star, Dec. 1, 1996, A.8.

Andrew Phillips, "The Ghosts of War," Maclean's 106:1 (Jan. 4, 1993), 50-51.

"Taylor: Remembering the Channel Islands Occupation," Toronto Sun, Nov. 3, 2018.

Rosemary F. Head et al., "Cardiovascular Disease in a Cohort Exposed to the 1940–45 Channel Islands Occupation," BMC Public Health 8:303 (2008).

Madeleine Bunting, "Living With the Enemy," The World Today 71:3 (June/July 2015), 10.

Listener mail:

"'Not on Your Life!' Says Actress, Flees Spotlight," Chicago Tribune, Nov. 12, 1993.

"Seismic Waves," xkcd, April 5, 2010.

Sune Lehmann, "TweetQuake," Aug. 25, 2011.

Rhett Allain, "Tweet Waves vs. Seismic Waves," Wired, Aug. 26, 2011.

Javed Anwer, "Delhi Earthquake Proves Twitter Is Faster Than Seismic Waves. Again," India Today, April 13, 2016.

Brad Plumer, "Tweets Move Faster Than Earthquakes," Washington Post, Aug. 25, 2011.

Lauren Indvik, "East Coasters Turn to Twitter During Virginia Earthquake," Mashable, Aug. 23, 2011.

Catharine Smith, "Twitter's New Ad Claims It's Faster Than An Earthquake (VIDEO)," Huffington Post, Sept. 1, 2011.

Alex Ward, "Larry the Cat, UK's 'Chief Mouser,' Caused a Brief Headache for Trump's Security Team," Vox, June 4, 2019.

Jennifer Ouellette, "No, Someone Hasn't Cracked the Code of the Mysterious Voynich Manuscript," Ars Technica, May 15, 2019.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was offered by M. Lobak in the old Soviet popular science magazine Kvant (collected with other such puzzles by Timothy Weber in the excellent 1996 book Quantum Quandaries).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jun 17, 2019
252-The Wild Boy of Aveyron
33:40

In 1800 a 12-year-old boy emerged from a forest in southern France, where he had apparently lived alone for seven years. His case was taken up by a young Paris doctor who set out to see if the boy could be civilized. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll explore the strange, sad story of Victor of Aveyron and the mysteries of child development.

We'll also consider the nature of art and puzzle over the relationship between salmon and trees.

Intro:

Reading Luc Étienne's expressions forward and backward produces sentences in different languages.

In 1883 John Maguire invented a raincoat that wouldn't make your legs wet.

Sources for our feature on Victor of Aveyron:

Harlan Lane, The Wild Boy of Aveyron, 1976.

Geoff Rolls, Classic Case Studies in Psychology, 2010.

Julia V. Douthwaite, The Wild Girl, Natural Man, and the Monster: Dangerous Experiments in the Age of Enlightenment, 2002.

Adriana S. Benzaquén, Encounters With Wild Children: Temptation and Disappointment in the Study of Human Nature, 2006.

Patrick McDonagh, Idiocy: A Cultural History, 2008.

Richard M. Silberstein and Helen Irwin, "Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard and the Savage of Aveyron: An Unsolved Diagnostic Problem in Child Psychiatry," Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry 1:2 (1962), 314-322.

Murray K. Simpson, "From Savage to Citizen: Education, Colonialism and Idiocy," British Journal of Sociology of Education 28:5 (September 2007), 561-574.

Annemieke1 van Drenth, "Sensorial Experiences and Childhood: Nineteenth-Century Care for Children With Idiocy," Paedagogica Historica 51:5 (October 2015), 560-578.

Raf Vanderstraeten and Gert Biesta, "How Is Education Possible? Pragmatism, Communication and the Social Organisation of Education," British Journal of Educational Studies 54:2 (June 2006), 160-174.

Patrick McDonagh, "The Mute's Voice: The Dramatic Transformations of the Mute and Deaf-Mute in Early-Nineteenth-Century France," Criticism 55:4 (Fall 2013), 655-675.

Nicole Simon, "Kaspar Hauser's Recovery and Autopsy: A Perspective on Neurological and Sociological Requirements for Language Development," Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia 8:2 (1978), 209-217.

Andrey Vyshedskiy, Rita Dunn, and Shreyas Mahapatra, "Linguistically Deprived Children: Meta-Analysis of Published Research Underlines the Importance of Early Syntactic Language Use for Normal Brain Development," RIO, Aug. 31, 2017, 846-857.

Nancy Yousef, "Savage or Solitary?: The Wild Child and Rousseau's Man of Nature," Journal of the History of Ideas 62:2 (April 2001), 245-263.

Kenneth Kidd, "Bruno Bettelheim and the Psychoanalytic Feral Tale," American Imago 62:1 (Spring 2005), 75-99.

Roger Shattuck, "The Wild Boy of Aveyron," New York Times, May 16, 1976.

Paul Sieveking, "Savage Behaviour: Children Who Really Are Running Wild," Sunday Telegraph, March 3, 2002, 37.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Marcel Duchamp" (accessed May 29, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Fountain (Duchamp)" (accessed May 29, 2019).

"Art Term: Readymade," Tate (accessed May 29, 2019).

"Marcel Duchamp: Fountain, 1917, Replica 1964," Tate (accessed May 29, 2019).

"Duchamp's Urinal Tops Art Survey," BBC News, Dec. 1, 2004.

Jonathon Keats, "See Why This Urinal Was the Leading Artwork of the 20th Century (But Is Still Underappreciated)," Forbes, Nov. 8, 2017.

Wikipedia, "Andy Warhol" (accessed May 30, 2019).

"Lesson: Brillo: Is It Art?", Andy Warhol Museum (accessed June 1, 2019).

Philadelphia Museum of Art, "Brillo Boxes, Andy Warhol, American, 1928-1987" (accessed June 1, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Vocaloid" (accessed June 1, 2019).

Mark Jenkins, "This Singer Is Part Hologram, Part Avatar, and Might Be the Pop Star of the Future," Washington Post, July 5, 2018.

Hatsune Miku, "World Is Mine - Live HD," June 9, 2011.

"Lucky Orb feat. Hatsune Miku," May 6, 2019.

James Vincent, "This AI-Generated Joe Rogan Fake Has to Be Heard to Be Believed," The Verge, May 17, 2019 (contains explicit language).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Sharon. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jun 10, 2019
251-Joseph Palmer's Beard
31:16

In 1830 Joseph Palmer created an odd controversy in Fitchburg, Massachusetts: He wore a beard when beards were out of fashion. For this social sin he was shunned, attacked, and ultimately jailed. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of a bizarre battle against irrational prejudice.

We'll also see whether a computer can understand knitting and puzzle over an unrewarded long jump.

Intro:

Prospector William Schmidt dug through California's Copper Mountain.

The bees of Bradfield, South Yorkshire, are customarily informed of funerals.

Sources for our feature on Joseph Palmer:

Stewart Holbrook, "The Beard of Joseph Palmer," American Scholar 13:4 (Autumn 1944), 451-458.

Paul Della Valle, Massachusetts Troublemakers: Rebels, Reformers, and Radicals From the Bay State, 2009.

John Matteson, Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, 2010.

Richard Corson, Fashions in Hair: The First Five Thousand Years, 2001.

Stewart H. Holbrook, Lost Men of American History, 1947.

Zechariah Chafee, Freedom of Speech, 1920.

Clara Endicott Sears and Louisa May Alcott, Bronson Alcott's Fruitlands, 1915.

George Willis Cooke, Ralph Waldo Emerson: His Life, Writings, and Philosophy, 1881.

Octavius Brooks Frothingham, Theodore Parker: A Biography, 1874.

Louisa May Alcott, Transcendental Wild Oats, 1873.

Joseph J. Thorndike Jr., "Fruitlands," American Heritage 37:2 (February/March 1986).

David Demaree, "Growing the Natural Man: The Hirsute Face in the Antebellum North," American Nineteenth Century History 18:2 (June 2017), 159–176.

Richard E. Meyer, "'Pardon Me for Not Standing': Modern American Graveyard Humor," in Peter Narváez, ed., Of Corpse: Death and Humor in Folkore and Popular Culture, 2003.

J. Joseph Edgette, "The Epitaph and Personality Revelation," in Richard E. Meyer, ed., Cemeteries and Gravemarkers: Voices of American Culture, 1989.

Herbert Moller, "The Accelerated Development of Youth: Beard Growth as a Biological Marker," Comparative Studies in Society and History 29:4 (October 1987), 748-762.

Carl Watner, "Those 'Impossible Citizens': Civil Resistants in 19th Century New England," Journal of Libertarian Studies 3:2 (1980), 170-193.

Ari Hoogenboom, "What Really Caused the Civil War?", Wisconsin Magazine of History 44:1 (Autumn 1960), 3-5.

Richard Gehman, "Beards Stage a Comeback," Saturday Evening Post 231:20 (Nov. 15, 1958), 40-108.

Stewart H. Holbrook, "Lost Men of American History," Life 22:2 (Jan. 13, 1947), 81-92.

George Hodges, "The Liberty of Difference," Atlantic Monthly 117:6 (June 1916), 784-793.

James Anderson, "'Fruitlands,' Historic Alcott Home Restored," Table Talk 30:12 (December 1915), 664-670.

Marion Sothern, "'Fruitlands': The New England Homestead of the Alcotts," Book News Monthly 33:2 (October 1914), 65-68.

Rick Gamble, "Speaking From the Grave Through Monuments," [Brantford, Ont.] Expositor, Feb. 23, 2019, D.2.

James Sullivan, "Beard Brains: A Historian Uncovers the Roots of Men's Facial Hair," Boston Globe, Jan. 1, 2016, G.8.

Kimberly Winston, "When Is Facial Hair a Sign of Faith?", Washington Post, Oct. 11, 2014, B.2.

Christopher Klein, "Pulling for the Beards," Boston Globe, Nov. 2, 2013, V.30.

"Shared History: Whisker Rebellion Whets Writer's Curiosity," [Worcester, Mass.] Telegram & Gazette, Jan. 27, 2009, E.1.

William Loeffler, "Facial Hair Has Said a Lot About a Man," McClatchy-Tribune Business News, Oct. 26, 2008.

Paul Galloway, "A Shave With History: Tracking Civilization Through Facial Hair," Chicago Tribune, July 28, 1999, 1.

Billy Porterfield, "Bearded Abolitionist Set Fad on Both Sides of Mason-Dixon," Austin American Statesman, Jan. 19, 1990, B1.

"Very Set in His Ways," Bridgeport [Conn.] Evening Farmer, Oct. 26, 1916, 9.

"Man's Beard Cause of Jeers," [Mountain Home, Idaho] Republican, Jan. 9, 1906.

"'Persecuted for Wearing the Beard': The Hirsute Life and Death of Joseph Palmer," Slate, April 16, 2015.

"Joseph Palmer, Fashion Criminal, Persecuted for Wearing a Beard," New England Historical Society (accessed May 19, 2019).

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "TX-0" (accessed May 24, 2019).

Wendy Lee, "Can a Computer Write a Script? Machine Learning Goes Hollywood," Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2019.

Sean Keane, "First AI-Scripted Commercial Tugs Hard at Our Heart Strings -- for a Lexus," CNET, Nov. 19, 2018

Reece Medway, "Lexus Europe Creates World's Most Intuitive Car Ad With IBM Watson," IBM, Nov. 19, 2018.

Janelle Shane, "Skyknit: When Knitters Teamed Up With a Neural Network," AI Weirdness, 2018.

Alexis C. Madrigal, "SkyKnit: How an AI Took Over an Adult Knitting Community," Atlantic, March 6, 2018.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was suggested by one that appeared in 2005 on the National Public Radio program Car Talk, contributed by their listener David Johnson.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jun 03, 2019
250-The General Slocum
33:55

In 1904 a Manhattan church outing descended into horror when a passenger steamboat caught fire on the East River. More than a thousand people struggled to survive as the captain raced to reach land. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the burning of the General Slocum, the worst maritime disaster in the history of New York City.

We'll also chase some marathon cheaters and puzzle over a confusing speeding ticket.

Intro:

In 1959 a Norwegian insulation company wrangled a three-ton block of ice from the arctic to the equator.

At his death in 1838, the governor of Bombay was transported into innumerable pussycats.

Sources for our feature on the General Slocum:

Edward T. O'Donnell, Ship Ablaze: The Tragedy of the Steamboat General Slocum, 2003.

Henry Davenport Northrop, New York's Awful Steamboat Horror, 1904.

Annual Report of the Supervising Inspector General, Steamboat Inspection Service to the Secretary of Commerce, 1915.

"In re Knickerbocker Steamboat Co. (District Court, S.D. New York, April 7, 1905)," in The Federal Reporter: Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit and District Courts of the United States, Volume 136, 1905.

Gilbert King, "A Spectacle of Horror -- The Burning of the General Slocum," Smithsonian.com, Feb. 21, 2012.

Frances A. Scully, "Tragic Last Voyage of the General Slocum," Sea Classics 37:2 (February 2004), 14-17, 66-67.

Valerie Wingfield, "The General Slocum Disaster of June 15, 1904," New York Public Library, June 13, 2011.

Ted Houghtaling, "Witness to Tragedy: The Sinking of the General Slocum," New York Historical Society Museum & Library, Feb. 24, 2016.

Valerie Bauman, "Anniversary of 1904 General Slocum Steamboat Disaster Marked," Newsday, June 10, 2017.

"100 Years After the General Slocum Fire, Smoke on the Water," Newsday, June 15, 2004, A42.

Glenn Collins, "A 100-Year-Old Horror, Through 9/11 Eyes," New York Times, June 8, 2004.

John E. Thomas, "Echoes of a Church Picnic," Newsday, May 23, 2004, G06.

Douglas Martin, "Last Survivor of General Slocum Steamboat Disaster Was 100," Montreal Gazette, Feb. 6, 2004, E7.

Douglas Martin, "Adella Wotherspoon, Last Survivor of General Slocum Disaster, Is Dead at 100," New York Times, Feb. 4, 2004.

Jay Maeder, "Built Like a Bonfire General Slocum, 1904," New York Daily News, March 12, 1998, 31.

Eric Pace, "Years After Ship Fire Captain's Role Debated," New York Times, June 11, 1984.

"Survivors Remember the General Slocum," New York Times, June 11, 1979.

David C. Berliner, "Fateful Day on Which 1,030 Died Is Recalled," New York Times, June 9, 1974.

"General Slocum Disaster Is Commemorated Here," New York Times, June 10, 1963.

"Mrs. Anna Kindley Dies; Nurse Took Part in General Slocum Rescue in 1904," New York Times, Nov. 7, 1958.

"Van Schaick Pardoned; Captain of the Ill-Fated Slocum Is Restored to Full Citizenship," New York Times, Dec. 20, 1912.

"The General Slocum Gone; Ill-Fated Steamer, Converted Into a Barge, Sinks Off Atlantic City," New York Times, Dec. 6, 1911.

"Last of the General Slocum; Hull of the Steamer of Disaster Sinks as a Brick Barge," New York Times, March 7, 1909.

"Captain of Slocum Surrenders to Law," Deseret News, Feb. 27, 1908.

"Full Extent of the Law: Sentence of Captain of the Gen. Slocum," [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, January 28, 1906, 2.

"Thousands Sob as Baby Unveil Slocum Statue," New York Times, June 16, 1905.

"Indictment for Slocum Captain," Minneapolis Journal, July 29, 1904, 1.

"Slocum Memorial," New York Tribune, July 8, 1904, 2.

"Slocum's Owners and Crew Held," Clinton [Iowa] Morning Age, June 30, 1904.

"Grand Opera House Benefit," New York Tribune, June 25, 1904, 3.

"No More Needed for Relief," New York Tribune, June 24, 1904, 7.

"Over Six Hundred Perish," Muskogee [Okla.] Cimeter, June 23, 1904, 2.

"Official Inquiry Into Burning of the Steamer General Slocum," [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, June 22, 1904, 6.

"Seven Hundred Lives Lost," Stark County [Ohio] Democrat, June 17, 1904, 1.

"Hundreds Perished by Fire and Water," [Newberry, S.C.] Herald and News, June 17, 1904, 1.

"504 Bodies Found," Boston Evening Transcript, June 16, 1904.

"The 'General Slocum,'" New York Times, June 16, 1904.

"The General Slocum an Unlucky Craft," New York Times, June 16, 1904.

"More Than Six Hundred Women and Children Die on Flaming Vessel or Leap Overboard to Drown," San Francisco Call, June 16, 1904, 1.

"Horror in East River," New York Tribune, June 16, 1904, 1.

"Horror Claims Over a Thousand," Washington Times, June 16, 1904, 1.

"An Appalling Catastrophe Women and Children Perish," [Walla Walla, Wash.] Evening Statesman, June 15, 1904, 1.

"City and Suburban News," New York Times, June 26, 1891.

Listener mail:

Stephanie Gosk, Rich McHugh, and Tracy Connor, "Marathon Investigator Derek Murphy Reveals How He Catches Cheaters," NBC News, Jan. 22, 2017.

Nik DeCosta-Klipa, "For a Marathon Cheater, the Biggest Obstacle Isn't in Boston," Boston Globe, April 3, 2019.

Mark Wilding, "Meet the Marathon Cheats," Guardian, Oct. 28, 2018.

Jen A. Miller, "Cheating to Make the Boston Marathon? You Can’t Run From This Detective," New York Times, April 11, 2019.

Wikipedia, "Rosie Ruiz" (accessed May 19, 2019).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Lex Beckley.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

May 27, 2019
249-The Robbers Cave Experiment
31:13

In 1954 a social psychologist started a war between two teams of fifth graders at an Oklahoma summer camp. He wanted to investigate the sources of human conflict and how people might overcome them. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review the Robbers Cave Experiment and examine its evolving reputation.

We'll also dredge up a Dalek and puzzle over a hazardous job.

Intro:

Butler University mathematician Jerry Farrell can control coin flips.

Nashville attorney Edwin H. Tenney gave a baffling Independence Day speech in 1858.

Sources for our feature on the Robbers Cave experiment:

Muzafer Sherif et al., Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation: The Robbers Cave Experiment, 1961.

Gina Perry, The Lost Boys: Inside Muzafer Sherif's Robbers Cave Experiment, 2018.

Ayfer Dost-Gozkan and Doga Sonmez Keith, Norms, Groups, Conflict, and Social Change: Rediscovering Muzafer Sherif's Psychology, 2015.

Paul Bloom, Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil, 2013.

Gina Perry, "The View From the Boys," Psychologist 27:11 (November 2014), 834-836.

Ralph H. Turner, "Some Contributions of Muzafer Sherif to Sociology," Social Psychology Quarterly 53:4 (December 1990), 283-291.

Muzafer Sherif, "Superordinate Goals in the Reduction of Intergroup Conflict," American Journal of Sociology 63:4 (January 1958), 349-356.

Gregory M. Walton and Carol S. Dweck, "Solving Social Problems Like a Psychologist," Perspectives on Psychological Science 4:1 (January 2009), 101-102.

O.J. Harvey, "Muzafer Sherif (1906–1988)," American Psychologist 44:10, October 1989, 1325-1326.

Elton B. McNeil, "Discussions and Reviews: Waging Experimental War: A Review," Journal of Conflict Resolution 6:1 (March 1962), 77.

Alex Haslam, "War and Peace and Summer Camp," Nature 556:7701 (April 19, 2018), 306-307.

Steven N. Durlauf, "A Framework for the Study of Individual Behavior and Social Interactions," Sociological Methodology 31 (2001), 47.

Gary Alan Fine, "Review: Forgotten Classic: The Robbers Cave Experiment," Sociological Forum 19:4 (December 2004), 663-666.

Andrew Tyerman and Christopher Spencer, "A Critical Test of the Sherifs' Robber's Cave Experiments: Intergroup Competition and Cooperation Between Groups of Well-Acquainted Individuals," Small Group Research 14:4 (November 1983), 515-531.

Samuel L. Gaertner et al., "Reducing Intergroup Conflict: From Superordinate Goals to Decategorization, Recategorization, and Mutual Differentiation," Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice 4:1 (March 2000), 98-114.

Furkan Amil Gur, Benjamin D. McLarty, and Jeff Muldoon, "The Sherifs' Contributions to Management Research," Journal of Management History 23:2 (2017), 191-216.

Anna E. Kosloski, Bridget K. Welch, "Confronting Student Prejudice With 'Mario Kart' Nintendo Wii," Social Thought and Research 31 (2010), 79-87.

Carol Tavris, "Thinking Critically About Psychology's Classic Studies," Skeptic 19:4 (2014), 38-43, 64.

Michael J. Lovaglia, "From Summer Camps to Glass Ceilings: The Power of Experiments," Contexts 2:4 (Fall 2003), 42-49.

J. McKenzie Alexander, "Group Dynamics in the State of Nature," Erkenntnis 55:2 (September 2001), 169-182.

Maria Konnikova, "Revisiting Robbers Cave: The Easy Spontaneity of Intergroup Conflict," Scientific American, Sept. 5, 2012.

Peter Gray, "A New Look at the Classic Robbers Cave Experiment," Psychology Today, Dec. 9, 2009.

David P. Barash, "Why People Kill," Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 8, 2015.

Barbara McMahon, "I Survived the Real-Life Lord of the Flies," Times, April 25, 2018, 2.

Leyla Sanai, "'The Lost Boys: Inside Muzafer Sherif's Robbers Cave Experiment', by Gina Perry - Review," Spectator, April 28, 2018.

Anoosh Chakelian, "The Lasting Wounds of Robbers Cave," New Statesman 147:5425 (June 29-July 5, 2018), 16-17.

Judy Golding Carver, "What Lord of the Flies Is Really About," Guardian, April 20, 2018, 8.

Eleanor Learmonth and Jenny Tabakoff, "'What Are We? Humans? Or Animals? Or Savages?'" Independent on Sunday, March 16, 2014, 26.

Darragh McManus, "The Real-Life 'Lord of the Flies,'" Irish Independent, May 5, 2018, 18.

David Shariatmadari, "A Real-Life Lord of the Flies: The Troubling Legacy of the Robbers Cave Experiment," Guardian, April 16, 2018.

Gina Perry, "Real-Life Lord of the Flies," Qatar Tribune, Feb. 24, 2018.

Peter Waterson, "Letters: Love-Hate," Guardian, Oct. 18, 2001, 25.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Mojibake" (accessed May 10, 2019).

Victoria Ward, "'Weekend Foggy Earphones': How Three Random Words Helped Police Come to Rescue of Mother and Daughter," Telegraph, March 25, 2019.

Tiffany Lo, "How Mum and Daughter Were Saved by Saying Words 'Weekend Foggy Earphones' to Cops," Mirror, March 26, 2019.

Jane Wakefield, "Three-Unique-Words 'Map' Used to Rescue Mother and Child," BBC News, March 26, 2019.

Mark Bridge, "Valerie Hawkett: Three Words Find Woman Who Crashed Car in a Field," Times, March 26, 2019.

"Dr Who Dalek Found in Pond," Telegraph, March 4, 2009.

Wikipedia, "Dalek" (accessed May 10, 2019).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Sam Dyck, who, for background, sent this summary of 2017 fatal occupation injuries from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

May 20, 2019
248-Smoky the War Dog
33:46

In 1944, an American soldier discovered a Yorkshire terrier in an abandoned foxhole in New Guinea. Adopted by an Army photographer, she embarked on a series of colorful adventures that won the hearts of the humans around her. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of Smoky the dog, one of the most endearing characters of World War II.

We'll also contemplate chicken spectacles and puzzle over a gratified diner.

Intro:

In 1955 a Wisconsin supermarket manager fulfilled the requirements for a promotional trip to Mars.

In 1898, Jules Verne sent a congratulatory telegram to honor the first submarine to operate successfully in the open sea.

Sources for our feature on Smoky the dog:

Damien Lewis, Smoky the Brave, 2018.

Kari Williams, "Champion Mascot, Fearless War Dog," VFW Magazine 105:10 (August 2018), 42-43.

"The Tale of Bill Wynne and 'Smoky the War Dog,'" Veteran's News Journal, Aug. 6, 2018, A3.

Rebecca Frankel, "Dogs at War: Smoky, a Healing Presence for Wounded WWII Soldiers," National Geographic, May 22, 2014.

Brian Albrecht, "Smoky of World War II Recognized by U.S. War Dogs Association," Cleveland Plain Dealer, Oct. 13, 2017.

Linda Slusser, "The Story of Smoky, The First Therapy Dog," American Kennel Club, Aug. 11, 2016.

Marie Wilson, "A 'Yorkie Doodle Dandy' Dog," [Arlington Heights, Ill.] Daily Herald, Aug. 3, 2014, 1.

Damien Lewis, "The Tiniest Hero," [Adelaide, South Australia] Advertiser, June 9, 2018, 18.

Ron Simon, "A Veteran's Story: WWII Recon Photographer's Canine Sidekick Is Claim to Fame," [Mansfield, Ohio] News Journal, Jan. 14, 2008, A3.

Ron Simon, "Local Man's Dog Prompts War Memorial," [Mansfield, Ohio] News Journal, Nov. 11, 2005, A1.

Karl Terry, "Author of Dog Tales Visits ENMU," McClatchy-Tribune Business News, May 9, 2007, 1.

Harry Levins, "Museum Notes: Every Dog Has His Day, Even the Soldierly Breeds," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 29, 1996, 4.

Ron Simon, "Veteran's Dog Was a Loved Mascot for Unit During WWII," [Mansfield, Ohio] News Journal, Aug. 8, 2004, B1.

Ron Simon, "Stuff: Special Wartime Hero Gets an Award," [Mansfield, Ohio] News Journal, July 25, 2012.

Lara Lauth, "Braveheart War Dog Wins Honour at Last," [Brisbane, Queensland] Sunday Mail, July 22, 2012, 10.

Tanya Bielski-Braham, "Courageous, Yet Unconventional, War Dog Awaits Her Memorial," AKC Gazette 122:5 (May 2005), 14.

Lissa Kaplan, "Smoky Is Remembered in a Book Celebrating Canine Participation on the Battlefield," Dayton Daily News, July 27, 1996, 8D.

Ron Simon, "Stuff: Smoky Awarded for Heroic Actions," [Mansfield, Ohio] News Journal, May 22, 2011.

"An Honour Roll of Australia's Most Decorated Canine War Heroes," [Brisbane, Queensland] Courier-Mail, June 2, 2018, 15.

"Smoky the Terrier: A Tiny War Hero Immortalized," Morning Edition, National Public Radio, Aug. 3, 2011.

Janelle Miles, "Smoky's Heroics Honoured," [Brisbane, Queensland] Courier-Mail, Dec. 12, 2012, 11.

Robert Reno, "The Dog Days of Washington," Austin American Statesman, May 16, 1998, A13.

Cleo Fraser, "QLD: War Hero Pup Honoured," AAP General News Wire, Nov. 17, 2015.

Scott Eyman, "Therapy Dog Is Unlikely Teacher," [West Palm Beach, Fla.] Post, July 28, 2013, F5.

"A Dog Is Not Just a Pet, But a 'Kind of Counsellor With Fur,'" [Dublin] Sunday Independent, Dec. 9, 2018, 30.

Tina White, "Remembering Furry Heroes," [Palmerston North, New Zealand] Manawatu Standard, Feb. 24, 2018, WM17.

"Remembering the Animals of War," [Invercargill, New Zealand] Southland Times, Feb. 24, 2018, A16.

"Animals to the Fore at Museum's New War Exhibit," Asbury Park Press, July 26, 2010.

Listener mail:

Adam Alter, Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave, 2012.

"Game Theory: Red vs Blue, The SECRET Color Strategy," The Game Theorists, June 25, 2015.

Russell A. Hill and Robert A. Barton, "Psychology: Red Enhances Human Performance in Contests," Nature 435:7040 (May 19, 2005), 293.

Andrei Ilie et al., "Better to Be Red Than Blue in Virtual Competition," CyberPsychology & Behavior 11:3 (June 7, 2008), 375-377.

"Effect of Colors: Blue Boosts Creativity, While Red Enhances Attention to Detail," Science Daily, Feb. 6, 2009.

"Stop On Red! The Effects of Color May Lie Deep in Evolution ...," Association for Psychological Science, June 7, 2011.

"League of Legends: Are There Any Advantages to Starting on the Red or Blue Side?," Quora (accessed May 3, 2019).

Jack Kee, "Why Does Blue Side Win More Games in League of Legends?" 5v5 Esports, March 1, 2018.

"Blue Side Advantage," League of Legends (accessed May 3, 2019).

"Interesting Statistic Regarding Sides in League of Legends," DBLTAP, June 20, 2017.

Sara A. Khan et al. "Red Signals Dominance in Male Rhesus Macaques," Psychological Science 22:8 (August 2011), 1001-1003.

Wikipedia, "Cayo Santiago" (accessed May 3, 2019).

Darrel G. Clarke and Randall E. Wise, "Optical Distortion, Inc. (A)," Harvard Business School Case 575-072, January 1975.

Wikipedia, "Chicken Eyeglasses" (accessed April 27, 2019).

Esther Inglis-Arkell, "Thousands of Chickens Once Wore Glasses to Stop Them Killing Each Other," io9, April 27, 2015.

B. Huber-Eicher, A. Suter, and P. Spring-Stähli, "Effects of Colored Light-Emitting Diode Illumination on Behavior and Performance of Laying Hens," Poultry Science 92:4 (April 2013), 869–873.

https://doi.org/10.3382/ps.2012-02679

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Anne Joroch, who sent this link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

May 13, 2019
247-Lateral Thinking Puzzles
32:25

Here are six new lateral thinking puzzles -- play along with us as we try to untangle some perplexing situations using yes-or-no questions.

The sources for this week's puzzles are below. In a few places we've included links to further information -- these contain spoilers, so don't click until you've listened to the episode:

Puzzle #1 was suggested by an item on the podcast No Such Thing as a Fish. Here are two corroborating links.

Puzzle #2 is by Greg. Here's a link.

Puzzle #3 was suggested by an item in Dan Lewis' Now I Know enewsletter. Here are two links.

Puzzle #4 is from Greg.

Puzzle #5 is from Sharon.

Puzzle #6 was contributed by listener David White, who sent this link.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

May 06, 2019
246-Gene Tierney's Secret Heartbreak
33:09

At the height of her fame in 1943, movie star Gene Tierney contracted German measles during pregnancy and bore a daughter with severe birth defects. The strain ended her marriage to Oleg Cassini and sent her into a breakdown that lasted years. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Tierney's years of heartbreak and the revelation that compounded them.

We'll also visit some Japanese cats and puzzle over a disarranged corpse.

Intro:

The indexes of two mathematics textbooks contain hidden jokes.

In 1973 Stanford statistician Herman Chernoff proposed using cartoon faces to encode information.

Sources for our feature on Gene Tierney:

Gene Tierney, Self-Portrait, 1979.

Oleg Cassini, In My Own Fashion, 1990.

Steven Rybin, Gestures of Love: Romancing Performance in Classical Hollywood Cinema, 2017.

Karen Burroughs Hannsberry, Femme Noir: Bad Girls of Film, 2013.

Agatha Christie, The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side, 1962.

Dan Callahan, "Only a Dream," Sight & Sound 22:3 (March 2012), 50-53.

Maureen Orth, "Cassini Royale," Vanity Fair 52:9 (September 2010), 302.

Amy Davidson Sorkin, "Wakefield's Vaccine Follies," New Yorker, May 26, 2010.

"Gene Tierney," Variety, Nov. 10, 1991.

"Welcome for a Troubled Beauty," Life, Sept. 29, 1958, 87-92.

"Debutante Gene Tierney Makes Her Entrance in a Broadway Success," Life, Feb. 19, 1940, 35-40.

Donald G. McNeil Jr., "Rubella Has Been Eliminated From the Americas, Health Officials Say," New York Times, April 29, 2015.

Patti S. Spencer, "60-Year-Old Divorce Agreement Put to the Test," [Lancaster, Pa.] Intelligencer Journal, Sept. 24, 2012, B.8.

"Oleg Cassini," Times, March 21, 2006, 63.

Richard Severo and Ruth La Ferla, "Oleg Cassini, Designer for the Stars and Jacqueline Kennedy, Dies at 92," New York Times, March 19, 2006.

Donald P. Myers, "Call Him Casanova," Newsday, Aug. 16, 2001, B06.

Alex Witchel, "At Home With: Oleg Cassini; Ducking the Hunters," New York Times, Nov. 16, 1995.

Frank Rizzo, "Glimpses of a Troubled Life: Gene Tierney Was More Than Just a Beautiful Vision," Hartford Courant, July 3, 1994, G1.

Richard Severo, "Gene Tierney, 70, Star of 'Laura' And 'Leave Her to Heaven,' Dies," New York Times, Nov. 8, 1991.

"Actress Gene Tierney, Screen Beauty of 1940s," Chicago Tribune, Nov. 8, 1991, 10.

"Gene Tierney, Acclaimed as Star of 'Laura,' Dies at 70," Los Angeles Times, Nov. 8, 1991.

"Actress Gene Tierney Dies at 70," Washington Post, Nov. 8, 1991, D4.

Carrie Rickey, "Gene Tierney, Famed for Her Roles in 'Laura' and 'Heaven Can Wait,'" Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 8, 1991, C.9.

"Actress Gene Tierney Dies," Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 8, 1991, F10.

"Show Bits: Tragedy Clouded Tierney's Triumphs," Windsor Star, Nov. 8, 1991, C2.

"Actress Gene Tierney, Star of 'Laura,' Dies at 70," Associated Press, Nov. 8, 1991.

Laura Tolley, "Actress Gene Tierney, Known For Role in 'Laura,' Dies At 70," Associated Press, Nov. 7, 1991.

Michael Gross, "Oleg Cassini: A Celebrity Life in Fashion," New York Times, Aug. 28, 1987.

Mitchell Smyth, "She Fell in Love With Young JFK," Toronto Star, July 21, 1985, D04.

"Movie Recalls Gene Tierney," Lodi [Calif.] News-Sentinel, July 3, 1980, 3-G.

Seymour Peck, "Star Trouble," New York Times, April 8, 1979.

"Gene Tierney Re-Enters Clinic," New York Times, Jan. 22, 1959.

"Gene Tierney Leaves Clinic," New York Times, Sept. 26, 1959.

"Gene Tierney Enters Hospital," Deseret News, Jan. 21, 1958, A13.

"Gene Tierney Gets Divorce," New York Times, April 9, 1953.

"Gene Tierney Robbed in Britain," New York Times, July 8, 1952.

"Gene Tierney Gets Divorce," New York Times, Feb. 29, 1952.

"Gene Tierney Loses Gems; Actress Reports $15,300 Jewels Stolen From Home Here," New York Times, Sept. 24, 1948.

"Gene Tierney Suspended; Actress Says She Couldn't Fill 'Walls of Jericho' Role," New York Times, Sept. 29, 1947.

"Gene Tierney Wins California Divorce," New York Times, March 11, 1947.

"Saves Family Homestead; Gene Tierney Redeems Property 24 Hours After Foreclosure," New York Times, March 8, 1942.

"Gene Tierney, Actress, Wed to Count Cassini," New York Times, June 2, 1941.

Listener mail:

Steve Annear, "Museum of Fine Arts Will Use a Puppy to Sniff Out Pests That Could Damage Its Collections," Boston Globe, Jan. 9, 2018.

"Meet Riley the Museum Dog," Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (accessed April 15, 2019).

Jason Daley, "Meet Riley, the Puppy Training to Sniff Out Bugs in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts," Smithsonian.com, Jan. 11, 2018.

Lillian Brown, "Riley the Museum Dog Gets His Own Book," Boston Globe, April 3, 2019.

"Riley the Museum Dog Stars in New Children's Book Released by Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and The Boston Globe," Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (accessed April 15, 2019).

"A Nose For Art: Meet The MFA's New Four-Legged Employee," WBZ NewsRadio, April 17, 2019.

"Popular Dog Has Book Signing, Meets Fans at Museum of Fine Arts," News 7 Boston, April 17, 2019.

Wikipedia, "Tama (cat)" (accessed April 15, 2019).

Maggie Hiufu Wong, "Meet Nitama, the New Cat in Charge at Japan's Kishi Station," CNN, Aug. 24, 2015.

"Cat Stationmaster Tama Mourned in Japan and Elevated as Goddess," Associated Press, June 28, 2015.

Maggie Hiufu Wong, "The Cat That Saved a Japanese Train Station," CNN Travel, May 24, 2013.

"Stationmaster Cat," Animal Planet, April 18, 2012.

Philip Brasor and Masako Tsubuku, "'Nekonomics' Does Its Bit to Keep Japan's Economy Purring," Japan Times, April 8, 2017.

"Can 'Nekonomics' Save Japan's Economy?" Japan Today, March 3, 2016.

"31 Pictures That Show Japan's Crazy Obsession With Cats," Business Insider, July 10, 2013.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Christopher McDonough, who suggests this book for further information (warning -- this link spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Apr 29, 2019
245-Jeanne Baret
32:05

The first woman to circumnavigate the world did so dressed as a man. In 1766, 26-year-old Jeanne Baret joined a French expedition hoping to conceal her identity for three years. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of her historic journey around the globe.

We'll also hear Mark Twain's shark story and puzzle over a foiled con artist.

Intro:

In 1856 Samuel Hoshour wrote an imaginary correspondence full of polysyllabic words.

In 1974 Dennis Upper published a study of his intractable writer's block.

Sources for our feature on Jeanne Baret:

Glynis Ridley, The Discovery of Jeanne Baret, 2010.

Sandra Knapp, "History: The Plantswoman Who Dressed as a Boy," Nature 470 (Feb. 3, 2011), 36–37.

Eric J. Tepe, Glynis Ridley, and Lynn Bohs, "A New Species of Solanum Named for Jeanne Baret, an Overlooked Contributor to the History of Botany," PhytoKeys 8 (2012), 37.

H. Walter Lack, "The Discovery, Naming and Typification of Bougainvillea spectabilis (Nyctaginaceae)," Willdenowia 42:1 (2012), 117-127.

Genevieve K. Walden and Robert Patterson, "Nomenclature of Subdivisions Within Phacelia (Boraginaceae: Hydrophylloideae)," Madroño 59:4 (2012), 211-223.

Beth N. Orcutt and Ivona Cetinic, "Women in Oceanography: Continuing Challenges," Oceanography 27:4 (2014), 5-13.

Londa Schiebinger, "Exotic Abortifacients and Lost Knowledge," Lancet 371:9614 (2008), 718-719.

Frank N. Egerton, "History of Ecological Sciences, Part 61C: Marine Biogeography, 1690s–1940s," Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 100:1 (January 2019), 1-55.

Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen, "Moody Wallpaper," Protein Spotlight 33 (2003).

Richard H. Grove, "Origins of Western Environmentalism," Scientific American 267:1 (July 1992), 42-47.

Allison Bohac and Susan Milius, "Science Notebook," Science News 181:5 (March 10, 2012), 4.

Londa Schiebinger, "Jeanne Baret: The First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe," Endeavour 27:1 (2003), 22-25.

Raquel González Rivas, "Gulf 'Alter-Latinas': Cross-Dressing Women Travel Beyond the Gulfs of Transnationality and Transexuality," Southern Literary Journal 46:2 (Spring 2014), 128-139.

Andy Martin, "The Enlightenment in Paradise: Bougainville, Tahiti, and the Duty of Desire," Eighteenth-Century Studies 41:2 (Winter 2008), 203-216.

Françoise Lionnet, "Shipwrecks, Slavery, and the Challenge of Global Comparison: From Fiction to Archive in the Colonial Indian Ocean," Comparative Literature 64:4 (2012), 446-461.

Marie-Hélène Ghabut, "Female as Other: The Subversion of the Canon Through Female Figures in Diderot's Work," Diderot Studies 27 (1998), 57-66.

Londa Schiebinger, "Feminist History of Colonial Science," Hypatia 19:1 (Winter 2004), 233-254.

Kai Mikkonen, "Narrative Interruptions and the Civilized Woman: The Figures of Veiling and Unveiling in Diderot's Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville," Diderot Studies 27 (1998), 129-147.

Londa Schiebinger, "Agnotology and Exotic Abortifacients: The Cultural Production of Ignorance in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 149:3 (2005), 316-343.

"5 Underrated Pioneers in Circumnavigation," New York Times, Oct. 14, 2016.

Brian Maffly, "Botanical Explorer Jeanne Baret Finally Gets Her Due," Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 18, 2012.

"Incredible Voyage," Wall Street Journal, Jan. 24, 2011.

"A Female Explorer Discovered on the High Seas," All Things Considered, National Public Radio, Dec. 26, 2010.

"Briefing: Jeanne Baret," [Glasgow] Herald, March 8, 2005, 13.

Christine Hamelin, "An Ace Adventurer, a Brilliant Botanist," Kingston Whig, March 5, 2005, 2.

Elizabeth Kiernan, "The Amazing Feat of Jeanne Baret," New York Botanical Garden, March 12, 2014.

Listener mail:

"This Is Your Story," The Ernie Kovacs Show, 1957.

David Margolick, "Sid Caesar's Finest Sketch," New Yorker, Feb. 14, 2014.

Wikipedia, "Sid Caesar" (accessed March 15, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Following the Equator" (accessed April 13, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Cecil Rhodes" (accessed April 13, 2019).

"Following the Equator, 1895-1896," UC Berkeley Library (accessed April 13, 2019).

Mark Twain, Following the Equator, 1897.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener David White.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Apr 22, 2019
244-The Women's Protest
34:47

In February 1943, hundreds of German women joined in a spontaneous protest in central Berlin. They were objecting to the roundup of some of the city's last Jews -- their husbands. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the Rosenstrasse protest, a remarkable example of civil disobedience.

We'll also ponder whether a computer can make art and puzzle over some unusual phone calls.

Intro:

Between 1946 and 1953, British wordplay maven Leigh Mercer published 100 immortal palindromes in Notes & Queries.

In 1933 English sculptor John Skeaping recorded his opinions of his contemporaries inside a horse of mahogany.

Sources for our feature on the Rosenstrasse demonstration:

Nathan Stoltzfus, Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany, 2001.

Wolf Gruner and Ursula Marcum, "The Factory Action and the Events at the Rosenstrasse in Berlin: Facts and Fictions About 27 February 1943: Sixty Years Later," Central European History 36:2 (2003), 179-208.

Nathan Stoltzfus, "Historical Evidence and Plausible History: Interpreting the Berlin Gestapo's Attempted 'Final Roundup' of Jews (Also Known as the 'Factory Action')," Central European History 38:3 (2005), 450-459.

Wolf Gruner, "A 'Historikerstreit?' A Reply to Nathan Stoltzfus' Response," Central European History 38:3 (2005), 460-464.

Michael Geyer, "Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany (review)," Journal of Church and State 40:1 (Winter 1998), 189-190.

"The Rosenstrasse Incident Is Recounted," Canadian Jewish News, Feb. 27, 1997, 11.

Jeff McMillan, "A Moment of Courage in Hitler's Berlin," Chronicle of Higher Education 43:8 (Oct. 18, 1996), A9.

Evan B. Bukey, "Widerstand in der Rosenstrasse: Die Fabrik-Aktion und die Verfolgung der 'Mischehen' 1943 (review)," Holocaust and Genocide Studies 21:2 (Fall 2007).

Ron Madson, "The Restoration of Conscientious Objection," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 51:4 (Winter 2018), 77-103, 251.

Nathan Stoltzfus, "Dissent in Nazi Germany," Atlantic 270:3 (September 1992), 86-94.

Nathan Stoltzfus and Mordechai Paldiel, "Rosenstrasse at 75," Jerusalem Post, Feb. 24, 2018.

Julia M. Klein, "The Time Hitler Blinked," Forward, Aug. 5, 2016, 23-24.

"Lecture: Nonviolent Resistance to Nazis," University Wire, Nov. 3, 2013.

Dori Laub, "In Search of the Rescuer in the Holocaust," Historical Reflections 39:2 (Summer 2013), 40-56.

Susan Neiman, "To Resist Hitler and Survive," New York Times, Feb. 3, 2008.

Barbara Kellerman, "Those Who Stood Against Hitler," New York Times, Feb. 3, 2008.

J. Kelly Nestruck, "The Good Germans," National Post, Sept. 24, 2004, PM9.

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, "'Give Us Our Husbands Back!'" Jerusalem Post, April 25, 2003, 10.

"She Won't Use 'Holocaust' or 'Kristallnacht,'" Oakland Tribune, April 13, 2003, 1.

Norm Guthartz, "Triumph Over Hatred," Jerusalem Post, Sept. 18, 1997, 9.

Nathan Stoltzfus, "Unsung Heroes Defied the Nazis: Too Often Resistance Is Seen as a Choice of Martyrdom vs. Passivity," Philadelphia Inquirer, March 18, 1997, A.13.

Anne Karpf, "A Remarkable Demonstration of Love," Times, Dec. 12, 1996, 36.

David Molner, "History Lesson: In 1943 Berlin, a Group of Wives Won the Release of Their Jewish Husbands," Chicago Tribune, Nov. 28, 1993, 11.

"27 February 1943: The Rosenstrasse Protest," Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (accessed March 31, 2019).

"The Rosenstrasse Demonstration, 1943," United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (accessed March 31, 2019).

Max Rennebohm, "German Wives Win the Release of Their Jewish Husbands (Rosenstrasse Protest), 1943," Global Nonviolent Action Database, May 18, 2011.

Listener mail:

Svea Eckert, "Inside the Fake Science Factory," DEF CON 26, Sept. 17, 2018. (The description of the WASET sting starts at about 10:50.)

SCIgen - An Automatic CS Paper Generator.

Adam Conner-Simons, "How Three MIT Students Fooled the World of Scientific Journals," MIT News, April 14, 2015.

"Springer and Université Joseph Fourier Release SciDetect to Discover Fake Scientific Papers," Springer, March 23, 2015.

Mike Rugnetta, "This Episode Was Written by an AI," PBS Idea Channel, June 29, 2016.

Mike Rugnetta, "Can an Artificial Intelligence Create Art?", PBS Idea Channel, June 30, 2016.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Jennifer Sinnott.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Apr 15, 2019
243-The Peshtigo Fire
31:52

In 1871, while the Great Chicago Fire was riveting the nation's attention, a blaze six times as deadly was ravaging a desperate town in northeastern Wisconsin. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Peshtigo fire, the deadliest wildfire in American history.

We'll also watch an automated western and puzzle over some discounted food.

Intro:

Harry Mathews composed a poem in which every syllable is doubled.

In 1766, French draughtsman Charles-Louis Clérisseau painted a Roman room to resemble a ruin.

Sources for our feature on the Peshtigo fire:

Denise Gess and William Lutz, Firestorm at Peshtigo, 2002.

Peter Pernin, "The Great Peshtigo Fire: An Eyewitness Account," Wisconsin Magazine of History 54:4 (Summer 1971), 246-272.

United States Department of Agriculture, Report on Forestry, Volume 3, 1882.

William F. Steuber Jr., "The Problem at Peshtigo," Wisconsin Magazine of History 42:1 (Autumn 1958), 13-15.

Hutch Brown, "'The Air Was Fire': Fire Behavior at Peshtigo in 1871," Fire Management Today 64:4 (Fall 2004), 20-30.

Sara E. Caton, et al., "Review of Pathways for Building Fire Spread in the Wildland Urban Interface Part I: Exposure Conditions," Fire Technology 53:2 (2017), 429-473.

Jack Cohen, "The Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Problem," Forest History Today 11 (2008), 20-26.

Lisa A. Schulte and David J. Mladenoff, "Severe Wind and Fire Regimes in Northern Forests: Historical Variability at the Regional Scale," Ecology 86:2 (2005), 431-445.

Robert N. Meroney, "Fire Whirls and Building Aerodynamics," Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Wind Engineering, 2003.

Stewart Holbrook, "The Peshtigo Fire," American Scholar 13:2 (Spring 1944), 201-209.

Michael E. Telzrow, "The Peshtigo Fire," New American 22:5 (March 6, 2006), 33-38.

John Steele Gordon, "Forgotten Fury," American Heritage 54:2 (April/May 2003), 35.

Tom Skilling, "Was Peshtigo Fire Worse Than the Great Chicago Fire?" Chicago Tribune, Oct. 7, 2018.

Chelsey Lewis, "Remembering America's Deadliest Forest Fire," Wausau [Wis.] Daily Herald, July 22, 2018, C.3.

Michael S. Rosenwald, "'The Night America Burned': The Deadliest — and Most Overlooked — Fire in U.S. History," Washington Post, Dec. 6, 2017.

Warren Gerds, "Tin Can May Date Back to Peshtigo Fire Relief," Green Bay (Wis.) Press Gazette, Dec. 10, 2011, C.1.

Jay Jones, "The 140-Year-Old Mystery of the 'Forgotten Fire,'" Los Angeles Times, Oct. 9, 2011, L.3.

Everett Rosenfeld, "Top 10 Devastating Wildfires," Time, June 8, 2011.

Cynthia Crossen, "Deja Vu: In 1871, Chicago Blaze Made News, But More Died in Wisconsin Fire," Wall Street Journal, Aug. 4, 2004, A.5.

Warren Gerds, "Hallowed Reminders," Green Bay [Wis.] Press Gazette, July 24, 2004, E.3.

Greg Tasker, "Worst Fire Largely Unknown," Baltimore Sun, Oct. 10, 2003.

Dennis McCann, "History Seared Into Peshtigo's Memory," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 20, 2003, 1H.

James Zabawski, "Peshtigo Fire Tale Stirs Sympathy," Madison [Wis.] Capital Times, Aug. 9, 2002, 13A.

Susan Lampert Smith, "Peshtigo Fire Images Burn Hot in Memory," Wisconsin State Journal, Sept. 10, 2000, 1C.

Dennis McCann, "'Menacing Crimson' Blaze Raged Through Peshtigo," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 8, 1998, 2.

Jerry Resler, "Where the World Ended Peshtigo Marks 125th Anniversary of Fire That Killed 1,200," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 15, 1996, 1.

Bill Stokes, "Life and Death in the Forest 122 Years Later, Peshtigo Still Bears the Scar," Chicago Tribune, Oct. 3, 1993, 1.

Casey Bukro, "Fire Alarm Recalls Night of Horror 121 Years Ago," Chicago Tribune, June 23, 1992, 7.

"Continent's Worst Blaze Always Overshadowed," Washington Post, Oct. 9, 1988, A12.

Jay Clarke, "On the Night Chicago Burned, a Storm of Fire Consumed Peshtigo, Wis.," Chicago Tribune, Nov. 17, 1985, 25.

"The Great Peshtigo Fire," Newsweek, Oct. 15, 1979, 32.

Peter J. Burns, "The Peshtigo Fire," Saturday Evening Post 243:3 (Winter 1971), 88-113.

"Town to Correct Error in History," St. Petersburg [Fla.] Times, Jan. 9, 1954.

"The Wisconsin Fires," New York Times, Nov. 13, 1871.

"Wisconsin Fires," The Carroll [City, Iowa] Herald, Oct. 25, 1871.

"A Cyclone of Fire," New-Orleans Commercial Bulletin, Oct. 18, 1871.

"The Peshtigo Fire," National Weather Service.

Peshtigo Fire Museum.

Listener mail:

MIT Centennial Film, "The Thinking Machine," 1960.

John E. Pfeiffer, The Thinking Machine, 1962.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Michael Grigoriev, who sent this corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Apr 08, 2019
242-The Cardiff Giant
34:55

In 1869, two well diggers in Cardiff, N.Y., unearthed an enormous figure made of stone. More than 600,000 people flocked to see the mysterious giant, but even as its fame grew, its real origins were coming to light. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Cardiff giant, one of the greatest hoaxes of the 19th century.

We'll also ponder the effects of pink and puzzle over a potentially painful treatment.

Intro:

Edgar Rice Burroughs invented a variant of chess for a book set on Mars.

Due to an unfortunate edict, a ladder in Jerusalem has remained unmoved for 200 years.

Sources for our feature on the Cardiff giant:

Scott Tribble, A Colossal Hoax, 2008.

Nate Hendley, The Big Con, 2016.

Magnus Magnusson, Fakers, Forgers and Phoneys, 2007.

Brian Innes, Fakes & Forgeries, 2005.

Mark Rose, "When Giants Roamed the Earth," Archaeology 58:6 (2005), 30-35.

Barbara Franco, "The Cardiff Giant: A Hundred Year Old Hoax," New York History 50:4 (October 1969), 420-440.

James Taylor Dunn, "The Cardiff Giant Hoax," New York History 29:3 (July 1948), 367-377.

Michael Pettit, "'The Joy in Believing': The Cardiff Giant, Commercial Deceptions, and Styles of Observation in Gilded Age America," Isis 97:4 (December 2006), 659-677.

Julian D. Corrington, "Nature Fakes," Bios 27:3 (October 1956), 159-169.

Kat Eschner, "The Cardiff Giant Was Just a Big Hoax," Smithsonian.com, Oct. 16, 2017.

Jessie Szalay, "Cardiff Giant: 'America's Biggest Hoax,'" Live Science, Aug. 16, 2016.

Ruth Mosalski, "Cardiff Giant Turned Out to Be Really Big US Hoax," South Wales Echo, Jan. 21, 2017, 24.

Gerald Smith and George Basler, "Hull Earned a Spot in 'Con Man's Hall of Fame,'" [Binghamton, N.Y.] Press & Sun-Bulletin, Oct. 6, 2014, 4.

Ed Kemmick, "'Petrified' Man Was Big Attraction in Turn-of-the-Last-Century Montana," Billings Gazette, March 13, 2009.

Bill White, "Cardiff Giant, Piltdown Man -- And Now Heydt Man," [Allentown, Pa.] Morning Call, March 10, 2001, B3.

"It Was a Giant Joke, Now Largely Forgotten," Associated Press, Nov. 14, 1999, L3.

Roger Munns, "19th Century Hoax Now Just an Interesting Relic," Los Angeles Times, March 16, 1997, 11.

Harvey Berman, "Prehistoric Giant Was a Hoax," [Montreal] Gazette, May 18, 1991, J8.

Bob Hughes, "The Cardiff Giant: How a Great Hoax Came to Life in a North Side Barn," Chicago Tribune, June 2, 1985, 10.

"Cardiff Giant in Suit," New York Times, April 18, 1949.

Louis C. Jones and James Taylor Dunn, "Cardiff Giant Again," New York Times, May 23, 1948.

"'Cardiff Giant' Sale Barred by Fort Dodge," Associated Press, Aug. 4, 1934.

"Syracuse Plea Fails to Get Cardiff Giant," Associated Press, Dec. 6, 1930.

Ruth A. Gallaher, "The Cardiff Giant," The Palimpsest 2:9 (1921), 269-281.

"Gigantic Hoax Fools Scientists," El Paso [Texas] Herald, June 8, 1912, 10.

"The Cardiff Giant: A Hoax That Took," Coeur d'Alene [Idaho] Evening Press, April 15, 1910, 4.

Frank Lewis Ford, "The Last of a Famous Hoax," The Scrap Book 3:2 (April 1907), 221-223.

"Cardiff Giant Fake Recalled by Death of the One of the Sculptors," Butte [Mont.] Inter Mountain, Nov. 8, 1902, 14.

"Cardiff Giant Fake," [Marshalltown, Iowa] Evening Times-Republican, Nov. 6, 1902, 2.

Andrew D. White, "The Cardiff Giant," The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, 64:6 (October 1902), 948-955.

"The History of the Cardiff Giant," Scranton [Pa.] Tribune, June 24, 1899, 11.

"Cardiff Giant Fraud," Salt Lake [Utah] Herald, April 23, 1899.

"He Made the Giant," Reading [Pa.] Eagle, Feb. 10, 1889, 2.

"The Cardiff Giant," in The History of Sauk County, Wisconsin, Western Historical Company, 1880, 547-552.

"More About the Colorado Cardiff Giant," New York Times, Sept. 30, 1877.

"The Cardiff Giant's Carpet-Bag," New York Times, Dec. 10, 1876.

W.A. McKinney, "The Cardiff Giant," English Mechanics and the World of Science, 22:562 (Dec. 31, 1875), 393-394.

"The Cardiff Giant Again," New York Times, May 11, 1874.

"Can a Married Woman Hold Property in a Cardiff Giant?" St. Louis Democrat, Dec. 12, 1872.

"The Cardiff Giant," College Courant 5:22 (Dec. 11, 1869), 347.

"The Cardiff Giant," Harper's Weekly 13:675 (Dec. 4, 1869), 776.

"The Cardiff Giant a Humbug," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, December 1869 meeting, 161-163.

Today the giant resides at the Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Listener mail:

"About Us," Town of Chicken (accessed March 15, 2019).

"ptarmigan," Oxford Living Dictionaries (accessed March 15, 2019).

"ptarmigan," Dictionary.com (accessed March 15, 2019).

"Chicken of Chicken, Alaska" (accessed March 15, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Chicken, Alaska" (accessed March 15, 2019).

Danny Payne, "Paint the Town Pink: Iowa's Unusual Tactic of Messing With Its Opponents," Sports Illustrated, Sept. 24, 2015.

Rick Brown, "Hayden Fry Jokes About Health, Pink Locker Room," Des Moines Register, Aug. 30, 2014.

Mark Snyder, "Michigan Football Covers Iowa's Pink Visitors Locker Room," Detroit Free Press, Nov. 12, 2016.

Mark Wogenrich, "Penn State Readies for Iowa and Its Soothing Pink Locker Room," [Allentown, Pa.] Morning Call, Sept. 19, 2017.

Alexander G. Schauss, "The Physiological Effect of Color on the Suppression of Human Aggression: Research on Baker-Miller Pink," International Journal of Biosocial Research 2:7 (1985), 55-64.

Wikipedia, "Baker-Miller Pink" (accessed March 16, 2019).

Oliver Genschow, et al., "Does Baker-Miller Pink Reduce Aggression in Prison Detention Cells? A Critical Empirical Examination," Psychology, Crime & Law 21:5 (2015), 482-489.

Morwenna Ferrier, "This Colour Might Change Your Life: Kendall Jenner and Baker-Miller Pink," Guardian, Jan. 10, 2017.

Natalie Way, "In the Pink: The Secret Wall Color for Dropping Pounds and Calming Down," realtor.com, Jan. 12, 2017.

Jake New, "The Meaning of Pink," Inside Higher Ed, Aug. 29, 2014.

Kabir Chibber, "Sports Teams Think the Color Pink Can Help Them Win," Quartz, Aug. 22, 2018.

"Norwich City Paint Carrow Road Away Dressing Room Pink," BBC, Aug. 20, 2018.

"Norwich City Stats," FootyStats (accessed March 19, 2019).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Neil de Carteret, who sent this corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Mar 25, 2019
241-A Case of Scientific Self-Deception
32:46

In 1903, French physicist Prosper-René Blondlot decided he had discovered a new form of radiation. But the mysterious rays had some exceedingly odd properties, and scientists in other countries had trouble seeing them at all. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of N-rays, a cautionary tale of self-deception.

We'll also recount another appalling marathon and puzzle over a worthless package.

Intro:

In the 1960s, two dolphins at Hawaii's Sea Life Park were inadvertently switched and performed each other's acts.

Franz Bibfeldt is an invisible scholar at the University of Chicago divinity school.

Sources for our feature on Prosper-René Blondlot and the N-rays:

René Blondlot, Julien François, and William Garcin, "N" Rays: A Collection of Papers Communicated to the Academy of Sciences, With Additional Notes and Instructions for the Construction of Phosphorescent Screens, 1905.

William Seabrook, Doctor Wood, 1941.

Walter Gratzer, The Undergrowth of Science: Delusion, Self-Deception, and Human Frailty, 2001.

Terence Hines, Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, 2003.

Richard C. Brown, Are Science and Mathematics Socially Constructed?, 2009.

Robert W. Proctor and E.J. Capaldi, Psychology of Science: Implicit and Explicit Processes, 2012.

Paul Collins, Banvard's Folly, 2015.

Roelf Bolt, The Encyclopaedia of Liars and Deceivers, 2014.

Walter Gratzer and Walter Bruno Gratzer, Eurekas and Euphorias: The Oxford Book of Scientific Anecdotes, 2004.

Robert W. Wood, How to Tell the Birds From the Flowers, 1907.

Robert W. Wood, "The n-Rays," Nature 70:1822 (1904), 530-531.

Mary Jo Nye, "N-Rays: An Episode in the History and Psychology of Science," Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences 11:1 (1980), 125-156.

Robert T. Lagemann, "New Light on Old Rays: N Rays," American Journal of Physics 45:281 (1977), 281-284.

Irving M. Klotz, "The N-ray Affair," Scientific American 242:5 (1980), 168-175.

John Butler Burke, "The Blondlot n-Rays," Nature 70 (June 30, 1904), 198.

John Butler Burke, "The Blondlot n-Rays," Nature 69 (Feb. 18, 1904), 365.

Jeffrey Kovac, "Reverence and Ethics in Science," Science and Engineering Ethics 19:3 (September 2013), 745-56.

Nancy S. Hall, "The Key Role of Replication in Science," Chronicle of Higher Education 47:11 (Nov. 10, 2000), B14.

"The Blondlot Rays," British Medical Journal 1:2245 (Jan. 9, 1904), 90.

"The Romance of the Blondlot Rays," British Medical Journal 1:2244 (Jan. 2, 1904), 35-36.

"Blondlot and Prof. Wood on the N-Rays," Scientific American 91:25 (Dec. 17, 1904), 426.

Malcolm Ashmore, "The Theatre of the Blind: Starring a Promethean Prankster, a Phoney Phenomenon, a Prism, a Pocket, and a Piece of Wood," Social Studies of Science 23:1 (1993), 67-106.

Luis Campos, "The Birth of Living Radium," Representations 97:1 (Winter 2007), 1-27.

"The Latest Wonder of Science," Public Opinion 4:36 (Jan. 28, 1904), 115-116.

J.J. Stewart, "The N-Rays of Blondlot," Knowledge & Scientific News 2:10 (September 1905), 218-219.

"Science and Invention: Radio-Activity," Current Literature 38:3 (March 1905), 258.

J.R. Whitehead, "Radioactivity and Radiation," Electrical World and Engineer 43:7, 310.

Mark Pilkington, "N-Rays Exposed," Guardian, Sept. 1, 2004.

"Latest Scientific Discovery," Leavenworth [Wash.] Echo, April 8, 1910, 4.

Listener mail:

Karen Abbott, "The 1904 Olympic Marathon May Have Been the Strangest Ever," Smithsonian.com, Aug. 7, 2012.

Wikipedia, "1904 Summer Olympics" (accessed March 7, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Athletics at the 1904 Summer Olympics – Men's Marathon" (accessed March 7, 2019).

Brian Cronin, "Sports Legend Revealed: A Marathon Runner Nearly Died Because of Drugs He Took to Help Him Win," Los Angeles Times, Aug. 10, 2010.

Wikipedia, "George Eyser" (accessed March 9, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Andarín Carvajal" (accessed March 9, 2019).

"1956 Olympic Long Jump Champion Krzesinska Dies," IAAF News, Dec. 30, 2015.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Murli Ravi. Here are two corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Mar 18, 2019
240-The Shark Papers
34:30

In 1799 two Royal Navy ships met on the Caribbean Sea, and their captains discovered they were parties to a mind-boggling coincidence that would expose a crime and make headlines around the world. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the shark papers, one of the strangest coincidences in maritime history.

We'll also meet some Victorian kangaroos and puzzle over an expedient fire.

Intro:

Hungarian composer György Ligeti wrote a symphonic poem for 100 metronomes.

In 1935 a 7-year-old Berliner fell in love with Adolf Hitler.

Sources for our feature on the shark papers:

Edgar K. Thompson, "Tale of the Nancy Brig," Mariner's Mirror 56:1 (January 1970), 97-104.

D.A. Proctor, "Notes: Michael Fitton," Mariner's Mirror 79:2 (May 1993), 206-208.

Edward Warren Guyol, "The Navy, the Shark, and the 'Nancy' Brig," Harper's Weekly 52:2708 (Nov. 14, 1908), 29.

W.J. Fletcher, "Michael Fitton," Temple Bar 114:5 (July 1898), 350-364.

Clinton Vane de Brosse Black, Tales of Old Jamaica, 1966.

Edward Rowe Snow, Marine Mysteries and Dramatic Disasters of New England, 1976.

Sir Philip Manderson Sherlock, Jamaica Way, 1962.

Caroline Rochford, Forgotten Songs and Stories of the Sea, 2016.

Xavier Maniguet, The Jaws of Death: Sharks as Predator, Man as Prey, 2007.

Julia W. Wolfe, "Shark Tale of Jamaica; Old Papers at Kingston Tell a Strange Sea Story of 1799," New York Times, April 20, 1941.

"Pirates Convicted by Shark," [Burnie, Tasmania] Advocate, July 2, 1935.

"The Shark That Ate the Papers of the Nancy Brig," Otago [New Zealand] Daily Times, June 12, 1920.

"The King's Dominion of the Islands: Major and Minor West Indian Notes," United Empire: The Royal Colonial Institute Journal 7:4 (April 1916), 271-276.

"Odds and Ends," Wide World Magazine 1:5 (August 1898), 554-560.

"Miscellaneous," [Portland, Maine] Eastern Argus, June 5, 1833, 1.

Henry Baynham, "Fitton, Michael," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Jan. 3, 2008.

Listener mail:

Angus Trumble, "'O Uommibatto': How the Pre-Raphaelites Became Obsessed With the Wombat," Public Domain Review, Jan. 10, 2019.

"The Kangaroo in England," Country Life Illustrated 3:72 (May 21, 1898), 617-618.

David J. Travis, Andrew M. Carleton, and Ryan G. Lauritsen, "Regional Variations in US Diurnal Temperature Range for the 11–14 September 2001 Aircraft Groundings: Evidence of Jet Contrail Influence on Climate," Journal of Climate 17:5 (2004), 1123-1134.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Bob Seidensticker.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Mar 11, 2019
239-The Man-Eaters of Tsavo
34:14

In 1898, two lions descended on a company of railway workers in British East Africa. For nine months they terrorized the camp, carrying off a new victim every few days, as engineer John Patterson struggled to stop them. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll track the "man-eaters of Tsavo" and learn what modern science has discovered about their motivations.

We'll also consider more uses for two cars and puzzle over some prolific penguins.

Intro:

MIT drops a piano off a building every year.

French architect Étienne-Louis Boullée proposed honoring Isaac Newton with a sarcophagus inside a 500-foot globe.

Sources for our feature on the Tsavo man-eaters:

John Henry Patterson, The Man-Eaters of Tsavo, 1907.

J.H. Patterson, "The Man-Eaters of Tsavo: The Lions That Stopped a Railway," Wide World Magazine 10:55 (October 1902), 3-12; 10:56 (November 1902), 112-118.

J.H. Patterson, "The Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo," Field Museum of Natural History, 1926.

Philip Caputo, Ghosts of Tsavo, 2002.

Bruce D. Patterson, The Lions of Tsavo, 2004.

Julian C. Kerbis Peterhans and Thomas Patrick Gnoske, "The Science of 'Man-Eating' Among Lions Panthera leo With a Reconstruction of the Natural History of the 'Man-Eaters of Tsavo,'" Journal of East African Natural History 90:1 (2001), 1-41.

T.P. Gnoske, G.G. Celesia, and J.C. Kerbis Peterhans, "Dissociation Between Mane Development and Sexual Maturity in Lions (Panthera leo): Solution to the Tsavo Riddle?" Journal of Zoology 270:4 (2006), 551-560.

Justin D. Yeakel, et al., "Cooperation and Individuality Among Man-Eating Lions," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106:45 (2009), 19040-19043.

Bruce D. Patterson, et al., "Livestock Predation by Lions (Panthera leo) and Other Carnivores on Ranches Neighboring Tsavo National Parks, Kenya," Biological Conservation 119:4 (2004), 507-516.

Bruce D. Patterson, "On the Nature and Significance of Variability in Lions (Panthera leo)," Evolutionary Biology 34:1-2 (2007), 55-60.

Bruce D. Patterson, Ellis J. Neiburger, Samuel M. Kasiki, "Tooth Breakage and Dental Disease as Causes of Carnivore-Human Conflicts," Journal of Mammalogy 84:1 (Feb. 28, 2003), 190–196.

Roland W. Kays and Bruce D. Patterson, "Mane Variation in African Lions and Its Social Correlates," Canadian Journal of Zoology 80:3 (March 2002), 471.

Larisa R.G. DeSantis and Bruce D. Patterson, "Dietary Behaviour of Man-Eating Lions as Revealed by Dental Microwear Textures," Scientific Reports 7:1 (2017), 904.

Ellis J. Neiburger and Bruce D. Patterson, "The Man-Eaters With Bad Teeth," New York State Dental Journal 66:10 (2000), 26.

"The Tale Teeth Tell About Legendary Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo," Laboratory Equipment, April 19, 2017.

Alba Tomasula y Garcia, "The Lions of Tsavo: Man-Made Man-Eaters," Western Humanities Review 68:1 (Winter 2014), 195-200.

Paul Raffaele, "Man-Eaters of Tsavo," Smithsonian Magazine, January 2010.

Jason Bittel, "Why Man-Eating Lions Prey on People -- New Evidence," National Geographic, April 19, 2017.

Mindy Weisberger, "What Drove Tsavo Lions to Eat People? Century-Old Mystery Solved," Live Science, April 19, 2017.

David Salisbury, "The Tale Teeth Tell About the Legendary Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo," Vanderbilt University, April 19, 2017.

Can Buckley, "Irishman's Account of Man-Eating Lions, 'the Ghost' and 'the Darkness,' in Africa," Irish Examiner, April 29, 2017.

Ed Yong, "How Many People Did the Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo Actually Eat?" Discover, Nov. 2, 2009.

Gemma Tarlach, "Infamous Man-Eaters of Tsavo Ate Like Zoo Animals," Discover, April 19, 2017.

Jennifer McNulty, "Legendary 'Man-Eating' Lions of Tsavo Likely Ate About 35 People -- Not 135, Say Scientists," UCSC Newscenter, Nov. 1, 2009.

Hannah Osborne, "Infamous Man-Eating Tsavo Lions Were Apparently Suffering From Toothache," Newsweek, April 19, 2017.

Restored by a taxidermist, the lions are currently on display in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

Listener mail:

"Sweden's Jobs Agency to Lay Off 4,500 Staff," The Local Sweden, Jan. 30, 2019.

Greg Myre, "Gas Lines Evoke Memories of Oil Crises in the 1970s," The Picture Show, National Public Radio, Nov. 10, 2012.

Wikipedia, "Odd–Even Rationing" (accessed Feb. 23, 2019).

Wikipedia, "1973 Oil Crisis" (accessed Feb. 23, 2019).

Wikipedia, "1979 Oil Crisis" (accessed Feb. 23, 2019).

Carl Bialik, "Fuel Rationing Is Hard to Gauge," Wall Street Journal, Nov. 16, 2012.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Mat Spedding, based on an item he heard on the podcast No Such Thing As a Fish. Here are three corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Mar 04, 2019
238-The Plight of Mary Ellen Wilson
33:45

In 1873 a Methodist missionary in New York City heard rumors of a little girl who was kept locked in a tenement and regularly whipped. She uncovered a shocking case of neglect and abuse that made headlines around the world. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell how one girl's ordeal led to a new era in child welfare.

We'll also outsource Harry Potter and puzzle over Wayne Gretzky's accomplishments.

Intro:

By a 1976 resolution, George Washington forever outranks every other officer in the U.S. Army.

Humorist Robert Benchley invented some creative excuses for missing deadlines.

Sources for our feature on Mary Ellen Wilson:

Eric A. Shelman and Stephen Lazoritz, The Mary Ellen Wilson Child Abuse Case and the Beginning of Children's Rights in 19th Century America, 2005.

Susan J. Pearson, The Rights of the Defenseless: Protecting Animals and Children in Gilded Age America, 2011.

Frank R. Ascione, Children and Animals: Exploring the Roots of Kindness and Cruelty, 2005.

John E.B. Myers, Child Protection in America: Past, Present, and Future, 2006.

Karel Kurst-Swanger and Jacqueline L. Petcosky, Violence in the Home: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 2003.

Mary Renck Jalongo, "The Story of Mary Ellen Wilson: Tracing the Origins of Child Protection in America," Early Childhood Education Journal 34:1 (August 2006), 1-4.

Lela B. Costin, "Unraveling the Mary Ellen Legend: Origins of the 'Cruelty' Movement," Social Service Review 65:2 (June 1991), 203-223.

Sallie A. Watkins, "The Mary Ellen Myth: Correcting Child Welfare History," Social Work 35:6 (November 1990), 500-503.

Jini L. Roby, "Child Welfare Workers in the Legal Arena: What Works, What Doesn't," Child & Youth Care Forum 30:5 (October 2001), 305-319.

John E.B. Myers, "A Short History of Child Protection in America," Family Law Quarterly 42:3 (Fall 2008), 449-463.

Susan Vivian Mangold, "Protection, Privatization, and Profit in the Foster Care System," Ohio State Law Journal 60 (1999), 1295.

Natan Sznaider, "Compassion and Control: Children in Civil Society," Childhood 4:2 (1997).

Marian Eide, "The First Chapter of Children's Rights," American Heritage 41:5 (July/August 1990).

Wanda Mohr, Richard J. Gelles, Ira M. Schwartz, "Shackled in the Land of Liberty: No Rights for Children," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 564:1 (July 1999), 37-55.

Gerald P. Mallon, "From the Editor: The Legend of Mary Ellen Wilson and Etta Wheeler: Child Maltreatment and Protection Today," Child Welfare 92:2 (March/April 2013), 9-11.

Amy D. Ronner, "Dostoevsky as Juvenile Justice Advocate and Progenitor of Therapeutic Jurisprudence," St. Thomas Law Review 30:1 (Fall 2017), 5-41.

"Mary Ellen Wilson: Fact and Fiction," [Wooster, Ohio] Daily Record, April 29, 2017, 7.

Howard Markel, "Case Shined First Light on Abuse of Children," New York Times, Dec. 14, 2009.

Daniel Bergner, "The Case of Marie and Her Sons," New York Times Magazine, July 23, 2006.

Al Baker, "Plan to Hasten Abuse Inquiries Came Up Short," New York Times, Jan. 21, 2006.

"Mary Ellen Wilson," New York Times, June 14, 1874.

"Mary Ellen Wilson," New York Times, June 2, 1874.

"The Custody of Mary Ellen Wilson," New York Times, May 1, 1874.

"Mary Ellen Wilson," New York Times, April 22, 1874.

"Mary Ellen Wilson; Further Testimony in the Case Two Indictments Found Against Mrs. Connolly by the Grand Jury," New York Times, April 14, 1874.

"Mary Ellen Wilson; Further Testimony as to the Child's Ill Treatment by Her Guardians," New York Times, April 12, 1874.

"The Mission of Humanity; Continuation of the Proceedings Instituted by Mr. Bergh on Behalf of the Child, Mary Ellen Wilson," New York Times, April 11, 1874.

"Mr. Bergh Enlarging His Sphere of Usefulness," New York Times, April 10, 1874.

Listener mail:

Mary Ilyushina and Lianne Kolirin, "Russia Reopens Investigation Into 60-Year-Old Dyatlov Pass Mystery," CNN, Feb. 4, 2019.

"Russia's Reopening the Investigation of the Spooky Dyatlov Pass Incident," The Chive, Feb. 8, 2019 (warning: contains some potentially disturbing photos and one strong expletive).

Emma Friedlander, "Russian Investigators Are Reopening the Dyatlov Pass Case. But What Is It?" Moscow Times, Feb. 14, 2019.

Wikipedia, "Tiddles" (accessed Feb. 12, 2019).

Rob Baker, "Tiddles, a rather fat cat that lived in the public lavatories at Paddington Station - 1978 - photo by Chris Moorhouse," Twitter, Jan. 22, 2019.

Anna Menta, "Absurd New 'Harry Potter' Book Written By Predictive Text Already Has Fan Art," Newsweek, Dec. 14, 2017.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, "Harry Potter Chapter Written by Bots Is Magically Terrible," CNET, Dec. 12, 2017.

Charles Pulliam-Moore, "This New Harry Potter Chapter, Written With Predictive Keyboards, Is Magically Unhinged," io9, Dec. 12, 2017.

Shannon Liao, "This Harry Potter AI-Generated Fanfiction Is Remarkably Good," The Verge, Dec 12, 2017.

Evan Narcisse, "That Freaky Bot-Written Harry Potter Chapter Got Turned into a Freaky Cartoon," io9, Feb. 13, 2018.

Botnik.

Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Mandie Bauer. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Feb 25, 2019
237-The Baseball Spy
33:00

Moe Berg earned his reputation as the brainiest man in baseball -- he had two Ivy League degrees and studied at the Sorbonne. But when World War II broke out he found an unlikely second career, as a spy trying to prevent the Nazis from getting an atomic bomb. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow Berg's enigmatic life and its strange conclusion.

We'll also consider the value of stripes and puzzle over a fateful accident.

Intro:

Johann David Steingruber devised floor plans in the shapes of letters.

At least six of Felix Mendelssohn's songs were written by his sister Fanny.

Sources for our feature on Moe Berg:

Nicholas Dawidoff, The Catcher Was a Spy, 1994.

Louis Kaufman, Barbara Fitzgerald, and Tom Sewell, Moe Berg: Athlete, Scholar, Spy, 1996.

W. Thomas Smith, Encyclopedia of the Central Intelligence Agency, 2003.

Glenn P. Hastedt, Spies, Wiretaps, and Secret Operations: An Encyclopedia of American Espionage, 2011.

Nicholas Dawidoff, "The Fabled Moe," American Scholar 63:3 (Summer 1994), 433-439.

Alan Owen Patterson, "The Eastern European Jewish Immigrant Experience With Baseball in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century," Modern Judaism 28:1 (February 2008), 79-104.

"Morris 'Moe' Berg," Atomic Heritage Foundation (accessed Feb. 3, 2019).

"'Moe' Berg: Sportsman, Scholar, Spy," Central Intelligence Agency, Jan. 17, 2013.

Richard Sandomir, "Baseball Hall of Fame to Celebrate a Catcher (and a Spy)," New York Times, July 30, 2018.

Bruce Fretts, "Who Was Moe Berg? A Spy, a Big-League Catcher and an Enigma," New York Times, June 21, 2018.

Josh Pollick, "Moe Berg -- OK Player, Outstanding Individual," Jerusalem Post, Dec. 30, 2004, 11.

"To Be a Spook," Justin Ewers, et al., U.S. News & World Report 134:3 (Jan. 27, 2003).

Hal Bock, "A Catcher and a Spy -- Journeyman Backstop Was an Operative During WWII -- Moe Berg," Associated Press, June 25, 2000.

Paul Schwartz, "Classic Look at Moe Berg, Catcher & Spy," New York Post, June 21, 2000, 68.

"An Abstruse Topic Saved His Life," New York Times, March 21, 2000.

Steve Bailey, "Moe Berg's Legacy," Boston Globe, Oct. 6, 1999, D1.

Jonathan Wasserman, "The Enigmatic Life of Moe Berg," Jewish Advocate, Sept. 29, 1994, 1.

Louis Jay Herman, "'To Hell With Moe Berg!'," New York Times, Aug. 14, 1994.

David A. Hollinger, "How Uncertain Was He?", New York Times, March 14, 1993.

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, "Books of the Times: Did a German Scientist Prevent Catastrophe in World War II?," New York Times, March 8, 1993.

William J. Broad, "New Book Says U.S. Plotted to Kill Top Nazi Scientist," New York Times, Feb. 28, 1993.

Ira Berkow, "Sports of the Times; The Catcher Was Highly Mysterious," New York Times, Dec. 14, 1989.

Bernard Kogan, "Baseball Anecdotes," New York Times, June 4, 1989.

William Klein, "The Spy Who Came in From the Diamond," New York Times, Dec. 1, 1985.

Moe Berg, "Baseball: What It's All About," New York Times, April 13, 1975.

Jonathan Schwartz, "Catcher Magna Cum Laude," New York Times, March 30, 1975.

Dave Anderson, "Mysterious Moe Is De-Classified," New York Times, Jan. 28, 1975.

"Moe Berg, a Catcher in Majors Who Spoke 10 Languages, Dead," New York Times, June 1, 1972.

Arthur Daley, "Sports of the Times," New York Times, June 1, 1972.

Whitney Martin, "'Mysterious' Berg Well Equipped for Place of Latin Ambassador," Wilmington [N.C.] Morning Star, Jan. 17, 1942, 6.

"Moe Berg, Red Sox, Gets Job as Envoy," New York Times, Jan. 15, 1942.

Richard McCann, "Baseball's One-Man Brain Trust," [Washington D.C.] Evening Star, May 21, 1939, 11.

Tom Doerer, "Nationals Hire Berg as Manush Signs," [Washington D.C.] Evening Star, March 10, 1932, D-1.

"Moe Berg Attracts Schalk as Catcher," Norwalk [Conn.] Hour, Dec. 14, 1927, 17.

"Veteran Scott Will Start at Short for White Sox," [St. Petersburg, Fla.] Evening Independent, March 24, 1926.

"White Sox Get Moe Berg," New York Times, Sept. 16, 1925.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "This Is Your Life (UK TV series)" (accessed Feb. 5, 2019).

Wikipedia, "This Is Your Life" (accessed Feb. 9, 2019).

"Group Captain Sir Douglas BADER CBE, DSO, DFC, FRAeS, DL," Big Red Book (accessed Feb. 9, 2019).

Douglas Bader on This Is Your Life.

Dick Cavett, "Can You Stand Some More Stan?" New York Times, Oct. 5, 2012.

Wikipedia, "Horse-Flies as Disease Vectors" (accessed Jan. 16, 2019).

Gábor Horváth, Ádám Pereszlényi, Susanne Åkesson, and György Kriska, "Striped Bodypainting Protects Against Horseflies," Royal Society Open Science 6:1 (Jan. 2, 2019).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Manon Molliere. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Feb 18, 2019
236-The Last Lap
33:55

In 1908 a 22-year-old Italian baker's assistant arrived in London to take part in the Olympic marathon. He had no coach, he spoke no English, and he was not expected to challenge the elite runners at the top of the field. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow Dorando Pietri on the most celebrated race in Olympic history.

We'll also ponder the Great Mull Air Mystery and puzzle over a welcome murder.

Intro:

In July 1968 ethologist John B. Calhoun built a paradise for mice.

Mother Goose rhymes can be hidden phonetically in French and German.

Sources for our feature on Dorando Pietri:

David Davis, Showdown at Shepherd's Bush, 2012.

Timothy D. Noakes, "Reduced Peripheral Resistance and Other Factors in Marathon Collapse," Sports Medicine 37:4–5 (April 2007) 382–385.

Jonathan Esteve-Lanao, Alejandro Lucia, Jos J. deKoning, and Carl Foster, "How Do Humans Control Physiological Strain During Strenuous Endurance Exercise?" PLoS One 3:8 (August 2008), e2943.

Tim Lincoln, "Mostly in the Mind," Nature 389:6654 (Oct. 30, 1997), 911-912.

Karl Lennartz, "Some Case Studies on How Media Constructs Olympic Legends," Timisoara Physical Education and Rehabilitation Journal 2:3 (2009), 10-19.

Markus Stauff, "The Pregnant-Moment Photograph: The 1908 London Marathon and the Cross-Media, Evaluation of Sport Performances," Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung 43:2 (2018), 203-219.

Peter Lovesey, "Conan Doyle and the Olympics," Journal of Olympic History 10:10 (2001), 8.

Mark Will-Weber, "Dorando Pietri," Runner's World 34:1 (January 1999), 42-43.

International Olympic Committee, "Dorando Pietri" (accessed Jan. 27, 2019).

"Dorando Pietri," Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia (accessed Jan. 27, 2019).

Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Dorando Pietri: Falling at the Finish" (accessed Jan. 27, 2019).

Simon Kuper, "The Original Olympic Hero," FT.com, July 27, 2012.

"Marathon Men Were Games' Attraction," [Los Angeles] Daily News, July 22, 2012, C.1.

"Italian Stumbles to Marathon Glory," Sunday Times, May 27, 2012, 15.

Ian O'Riordan, "London Calls Me to Retrace Pietri's Footsteps," Irish Times, April 21, 2012, 12.

Simon Burnton, "How Dorando Pietri Lost the Race but Won the Hearts of Millions," Guardian, Feb. 29, 2012.

Stuart Bathgate, "Centenary of Albert Hall Marathon, Where Pietri Fell Short Once Again," Scotsman, Dec. 18, 2009, 56.

David Davis, "Beijing 2008," Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2008, D.1.

Elliott Denman, "Remembering the Incredible 1908 Marathon," New York Times, July 23, 2008.

Doug Gillon, "Going the Distance: A Centenary Tale Full of Drama and Heroism," [Glasgow] Herald, April 12, 2008, 14.

Richard Owen, "Italy Celebrates Centenary of a Fallen Hero," Times, Feb. 18, 2008, 33.

"Dorando Pietri: London Marathon," Times, March 29, 1995, 1.

Charles Singer, "The First Case of Marathon Fever," New York Times, Oct. 9, 1983.

Bud Greenspan, "Truths, Half-Truths and Myths of Marathon Running," New York Times, Oct. 26, 1980.

Dave Anderson, "The Olympic Time Capsule," New York Times, April 25, 1976.

"Dorando Certainly Won," Montreal Gazette, Jan. 23, 1909, 7.

"Fifteen Teams in Race," New York Times, Dec. 4, 1908.

"Why Is Dorando Not Dorando? Because He Is Pietri," The Sketch 63:809 (July 29, 1908), 69.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Baader–Meinhof Effect" (accessed Jan. 31, 2019).

"There's a Name for That: The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon," Pacific Standard, July 22, 2013.

Arnold M. Zwicky, "Why Are We So Illuded?", Stanford University, September 2006.

Wikipedia, "Confirmation Bias" (accessed Feb. 2, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Red Army Faction" (accessed Jan. 31, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Great Mull Air Mystery" (accessed Jan. 31, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Mull" (accessed Feb. 4, 2019).

"The Riddle of the Lost Flight," Independent, Feb. 18, 2004.

"Mystery Plane Found on Sea Bed," BBC News, Feb. 7, 2004.

"Sunken Wreckage Identified as Crashed Wartime Flying Boat," Scotsman, April 3, 2004.

"The Great Mull Air Mystery," BBC Radio 4, Aug. 22, 2015.

What3Words.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Peter Bartholomew.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Feb 11, 2019
235-Leon Festinger and the Alien Apocalypse
32:18

In 1955, aliens from the planet Clarion contacted a Chicago housewife to warn her that the end of the world was imminent. Psychologist Leon Festinger saw this as a unique opportunity to test a new theory about human cognition. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow him inside a UFO religion as it approaches the apocalypse.

We'll also try to determine when exactly LBJ became president and puzzle over some wet streets.

Intro:

There's a hexagon of cloud at Saturn's north pole.

You're not as unpopular as you think you are.

Sources for our feature on Leon Festinger:

Leon Festinger, Henry W. Riecken, and Stanley Schachter, When Prophecy Fails, 1956.

Leon Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, 1957.

Joel Cooper, Cognitive Dissonance: Fifty Years of a Classic Theory, 2007.

Camille Morvan with Alexander J. O'Connor, An Analysis of Leon Festinger's A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, 2017.

Leon Festinger, "Cognitive Dissonance," Scientific American 207:4 (October 1962), 93-106.

Stanley Schachter, "Leon Festinger," Biographical Memoirs, Vol. 64, National Academy of Sciences, 1994.

R.B. Zajonc, "Obituary: Leon Festinger (1919–1989)," American Psychologist 45:5 (1990), 661-662.

Michael S. Gazzaniga, "Leon Festinger: Lunch With Leon," Perspectives on Psychological Science 1:1 (2006), 88-94.

Elliot Aronson, "Leon Festinger and the Art of Audacity," Psychological Science 2:4 (July 1, 1991), 213-221.

Serge Moscovici, "Obituary: Leon Festinger," European Journal of Social Psychology 19:4 (July 1989), 263-269.

Dion Scott-Kakures, "Unsettling Questions: Cognitive Dissonance in Self-Deception," Social Theory and Practice 35:1 (January 2009), 73-106.

Stephen Cox, "An Experiment in Apocalypse," Liberty 24:11 (December 2010) 17-22.

Louisa C. Egan, Laurie R. Santos, and Paul Bloom, "The Origins of Cognitive Dissonance: Evidence From Children and Monkeys," Psychological Science 18:11 (November 2007), 978-983.

Merton S. Krause, "An Analysis of Festinger's Cognitive Dissonance Theory," Philosophy of Science 39:1 (March 1972), 32-50.

Charles G. Lord, "Was Cognitive Dissonance Theory a Mistake?" Psychological Inquiry 3:4 (1992), 339-342.

Betty M. Bayer, "Wonder in a World of Struggle?" Subjectivity 23:1 (July 2008), 156-173.

Chris Mooney, "The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science," Issues 95 (June 2011), 27-32.

Chris Bader, "When Prophecy Passes Unnoticed: New Perspectives on Failed Prophecy," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 38:1 (March 1999), 119-131.

Lorne L. Dawson, "When Prophecy Fails and Faith Persists: A Theoretical Overview," Nova Religio 3:1 (October 1999), 60-82.

Jon R. Stone, "Prophecy and Dissonance: A Reassessment of Research Testing the Festinger Theory," Nova Religio 12:4 (May 2009), 72-90.

Michael Barkun, "The Occultist and the Spaceman," in Cathy Gutierrez, Handbook of Spiritualism and Channeling, 2015.

Diana Tumminia, "How Prophecy Never Fails: Interpretive Reason in a Flying-Saucer Group," Sociology of Religion 59:2 (Summer 1998), 157-170.

Robert W. Balch, Gwen Farnsworth, and Sue Wilkins, "When the Bombs Drop: Reactions to Disconfirmed Prophecy in a Millennial Sect," Sociological Perspectives 26:2 (April 1983), 137-158.

Daniel Finkelstein, "Prosecutors Don't Know How Biased They Are," Times, Jan. 24, 2018, 27.

Matthew Syed, "Trial and Error," New Statesman 144:5288 (Nov. 13-19, 2015), 28-31, 33.

"Leon Festinger, 69, New School Professor," New York Times, Feb. 12, 1989.

Adam Grant, "The Virtue of Contradicting Ourselves," New York Times, Nov. 14, 2015.

Kristin Wong, "Why It's So Hard to Admit You're Wrong," New York Times, May 22, 2017.

John Tierney, "Go Ahead, Rationalize. Monkeys Do It, Too," New York Times, Nov. 6, 2007.

Listener mail:

Simon Usborne, "The LBJ Missal: Why a Prayer Book Given to John F. Kennedy Was Used to Swear in the 36th US President," Independent, Nov. 16, 2013.

"About the Constitution: Article II: Executive Branch," National Constitution Center (accessed Jan. 25, 2019).

Scott Bomboy, "How JFK's Assassination Led to a Constitutional Amendment," Constitution Daily, Nov. 22, 2018.

"Art & History: Vice President of the United States (President of the Senate)," United States Senate (accessed Jan. 25, 2019).

"Art & History: John Tyler, Tenth Vice President (1841)," United States Senate (accessed Jan. 25, 2019).

Wikipedia, "William Henry Harrison" (accessed Jan. 25, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Presidency of John Tyler" (accessed Jan. 27, 2019).

"John Tyler," whitehouse.gov (accessed Jan. 25, 2019).

"Amendment XXV: Presidential Disability and Succession," National Constitution Center (accessed Jan. 25, 2019).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Greg. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Feb 04, 2019
234-The Dig Tree
33:52

In 1860 a party of explorers set out to traverse the Australian continent, but bad management and a series of misfortunes sent it spiraling toward tragedy. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Victorian Exploring Expedition and its dramatic climax at Cooper's Creek.

We'll also try to validate Archimedes and puzzle over an unlucky thief.

Intro:

In 1990 Jon Perez Laraudogoitia wrote a philosophy article that compelled its own acceptance.

In 1976 architect Robert Venturi found a way to commemorate a house with no surviving description.

Sources for our story on the Burke and Wills expedition:

Alan Moorehead, Cooper's Creek, 1963.

Sarah P. Murgatroyd, The Dig Tree, 2002.

Dave Phoenix, Following Burke and Wills Across Australia: A Touring Guide, 2015.

Ian Clark and Fred Cahir, The Aboriginal Story of Burke and Wills: Forgotten Narratives, 2013.

A.W. Howitt, et al., "Exploring Expedition From Victoria to the Gulf of Carpentaria, Under the Command of Mr. Robert O'Hara Burke," Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 32 (1862), 430-529.

The Diary of William John Wills.

William John Wills, A Successful Exploration Through the Interior of Australia: From Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria, 1863.

Dave Phoenix, "Burke and Wills -- An Overview of the Expedition, Its Preparation, Planning and Outcomes," Queensland History Journal 21:8 (2012), 497.

Jessica Campion, "Burke and Wills: Botany's Untold Success Story," Australian Geographic, July 27, 2011.

Bernie Joyce and Doug McCann, "The Scientific Legacy of Burke & Wills," Australasian Science 32:5 (June 2011), 29-31.

Sally Woollett, "Thiamine and the Dig Tree Tragedy," Chemistry in Australia 78:10 (November 2011), 4.

John W. Earl and Barry V. McCleary, "Mystery of the Poisoned Expedition," Nature 368:6473 (April 21, 1994), 683.

Deirdre Slattery, "If Burke Had Been a Naturalist ...: Telling and Re-Telling National Narratives," Australian Journal of Outdoor Education 8:2 (2004), 13-21.

Peter Daszak, "A Last Waltz for Burke, Wills, and King," EcoHealth 13:4 (December 2016), 821–823.

"Burke & Wills: From Melbourne to Myth," [Melbourne] Herald Sun, Sept. 24, 2002, 34.

Carolyn Webb, "Exploring the Myth," The Age, Aug. 26, 2002, 3.

"Memoirs of the Late Leaders of the Exploring Expedition," Sydney Morning Herald, Nov. 19, 1861, 2.

"Memorandum on the Recent Journeys of Exploration Across the Continent of Australia," Sydney Morning Herald, Dec. 20, 1861, 7.

"The Australian Exploring Expedition," North Wales Chronicle, Feb. 22, 1862.

"Australian Explorations," Newcastle Courant, May 23, 1862.

Richard Garnett, "Burke, Robert O'Hara," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept. 23, 2004.

C.A. Harris, "Wills, William John," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept. 23, 2004.

Burke and Wills Collection, National Museum Australia.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Concentrated Solar Power" (accessed Jan. 17, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Ivanpah Solar Power Facility" (accessed Jan. 17, 2019).

Adam Clark Estes, "How the World's Largest Solar Plant Wants to Fix Its Fried Bird Problem," Gizmodo, Aug. 19, 2014.

Associated Press, "BrightSource Solar Plant Sets Birds on Fire as They Fly Overhead," Aug. 18, 2014.

Ian Sample, "Doubt Cast on Archimedes' Killer Mirrors," Guardian, Oct. 23, 2005.

Jeremy Hsu, "Archimedes' Flaming Death Ray Was Probably Just a Cannon, Study Finds," Christian Science Monitor, June 29, 2010.

Thomas W. Africa, "Archimedes Through the Looking-Glass," The Classical World 68:5 (February 1975), 305-308.

Josh Clark, "What Was Archimedes' Death Ray?" How Stuff Works (accessed Jan. 17, 2019).

"Archimedes Death Ray," student experiment, Product Engineering Processes, MIT, October 2005.

"Archimedes Death Ray: Testing With MythBusters," Product Engineering Processes, MIT, October 2005.

Renee Montagne, "Was Archimedes' Mirror Real?" Morning Edition, National Public Radio, July 25, 2018.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Sharon. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jan 28, 2019
233-Flight to Freedom
34:39

In 1978 two families hatched a daring plan to escape East Germany: They would build a hot-air balloon and sail it by night across the border. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow their struggles to evade the authorities and realize their dream of a new life in the West.

We'll also shuffle some vehicles and puzzle over a perplexing worker.

Intro:

In 1993 Tom Peyer and Hart Seely found that Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto's utterances can be cast as free verse.

Jane Austen wrote three novels on a tiny table in her family's sitting room, subject to continual interruption.

Sources for our story on the East German balloon escape:

Jürgen Petschull, With the Wind to the West, 1980.

John Dornberg, "Freedom Balloon," Popular Mechanics 153:2 (February 1980), 100-103, 150.

Kate Connolly, "Film of Daring Balloon Escape From East Revives German Identity Debate," Guardian, Oct. 7, 2018.

"Man Who Fled East Germany in a Homemade Balloon and Whose Story Was Made Into a Film Dies," Sunday Express, March 15, 2017.

"Fleeing Communism in a Hot Air Balloon," BBC World Service, June 18, 2015.

Donata Von Hardenberg, "Escaping the East by Any Means," McClatchy-Tribune Business News, Nov. 12, 2009.

"Great Escapes," National Post, Nov. 7, 2009.

Scott Dick, "Those Who Risked It All on a Flight to Freedom," Daily Telegraph, April 13, 2004.

Alice Demetrius Stock, "Homemade Craft Made Daring Escape," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 3, 1995.

Paul Martin, "The House at Checkpoint Charlie: A Little West Berlin Museum Celebrates the Ingenuity of Those Who Conquered the Wall," Chicago Tribune, Dec. 7, 1986.

Victoria Pope, "Berlin Wall, 20 Years Later: People Still Try to Flee," Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 13, 1981.

"East-West: The Great Balloon Escape," Time, Oct. 1, 1979.

Michael Getler, "Harrowing Flight From East Germany," Washington Post, Sept. 28, 1979.

"Eight Flee East Germany in Homemade Balloon," UPI, Sept. 17, 1979.

"Günter Wetzel Und Peter Strelzyk," Haus de Bayerischen Geschichte Museum (accessed January 6, 2019).

Günter Wetzel's website.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Road Space Rationing" (accessed Jan. 10, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Vehicle Restriction in São Paulo" (accessed Jan. 10, 2019).

Reddit legaladvice (accessed Jan. 12, 2019).

"I trained an AI to generate /r/legaladvice post titles, and it asks 'Is it legal for me to get in legal trouble?'," Reddit legaladviceofftopic (accessed Jan. 11, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Keyforge: Call of the Archons" (accessed Jan. 10, 2019).

"Archon Names," Fantasy Flight Games, Nov. 9, 2018.

"The Amazing KeyForge Deck Names," Heavy Punch Games (accessed Jan. 19, 2019).

Dave Lawrence posts lists of neural net outputs on his blog, Aardvark Zythum.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Peter Wilds, who sent this related link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jan 21, 2019
232-The Indomitable Spirit of Douglas Bader
31:26

Douglas Bader was beginning a promising career as a British fighter pilot when he lost both legs in a crash. But that didn't stop him -- he learned to use artificial legs and went on to become a top flying ace in World War II. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review Bader's inspiring story and the personal philosophy underlay it.

We'll also revisit the year 536 and puzzle over the fate of a suitcase.

Intro:

In 1872 Celia Thaxter published an unsettling poem about an iceberg.

In 193 the Praetorian Guard auctioned off the Roman empire.

Sources for our story on Douglas Bader:

Paul Brickhill, Reach for the Sky, 1954.

S.P. Mackenzie, Bader's War, 2008.

Andy Saunders, Bader's Last Fight, 2007.

Joel Ralph, "Their Finest Hour," Canada's History 95:6 (December 2015/January 2016), 22-31.

Paul Laib, "Bader, Sir Douglas Robert Steuart," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, May 19, 2011.

A.W.G. English, "Psychology of Limb Loss," BMJ: British Medical Journal 299:6710 (Nov. 18, 1989), 1287.

"Obituary," Journal of the Royal Society of Arts 130:5315 (October 1982), 750-751.

The Douglas Bader Foundation.

Neil Tweedie, "Tribute to a Very British Hero," Daily Telegraph, Aug. 10, 2001, 10.

"Reaching for the Sky: Lady Bader Unveils Statue in Honour of Sir Douglas," Birmingham Post, Aug. 10, 2001, 6.

"Who Really Shot Down Douglas Bader?" Daily Telegraph, Aug. 9, 2001, 23.

Arifa Akbar, "In Memory of a Legendary Hero," [Darlington, UK] Northern Echo, Aug. 8, 2001, 8.

"Sir Douglas Bader, Legless RAF Ace Who Shot Down 22 German Planes," Associated Press, Sept. 6, 1982, 1.

"Sir Douglas Bader, World War II Ace," Associated Press, Sept. 5, 1982.

Herbert Mitgang, "He Fought Sitting Down," New York Times, Nov. 17, 1957.

"Legless British Pilot to Aid Veterans Here," New York Times, May 7, 1947.

"Legless Air Hero Enters British Title Golf Event," New York Times, April 5, 1946.

"Legless RAF Ace Honored," New York Times, Nov. 28, 1945.

"Bader, Legless RAF Flier, Freed by Yanks in Reich," New York Times, April 19, 1945.

"Germans Recapture Flier Bader As He Tries Out Those New Legs; Bader Is Caught Trying to Escape," New York Times, Sept. 29, 1941.

"Bader Gets New Artificial Leg, But Escape Attempt Fails," [Washington D.C.] Evening Star, Sept. 29, 1941 A-4.

"Legless Pilot Honored; Bader, Now War Prisoner, Gets Bar to Flying Cross," New York Times, Sept. 5, 1941.

"Epic of Bader's Leg," New York Times, Aug. 21, 1941.

"R.A.F., on Sweep, Drops Artificial Leg for Bader," New York Times, Aug. 20, 1941.

"Bader Is Nazi Prisoner; Legless R.A.F. Ace Safe After Parachuting in France," New York Times, Aug. 15, 1941.

"Bader, Legless R.A.F. Ace, Reported Missing," New York Times, Aug. 13, 1941.

"Two British Air Force Aces, One Legless, Reported Missing," [Washington D.C.] Evening Star, Aug. 12, 1941, A-18.

"10 Leading R.A.F. Aces Listed for Exploits," New York Times, Jan. 10, 1941.

Bader with Flight Lieutenant Eric Ball and Pilot Officer Willie McKnight of No. 242 Squadron, Duxford, October 1940. Bader himself designed the squadron's emblem, a boot kicking Hitler in the breeches.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Settlement of Iceland" (accessed Jan. 4, 2019).

Wikipedia, "History of Iceland" (accessed Jan. 4, 2019).

Wikipedia, "Papar" (accessed Jan. 4, 2019).

Encyclopedia.com, "The Discovery and Settlement of Iceland" (accessed Jan. 4, 2019).

Neil Schlager, Science and Its Times: Understanding the Social Significance of Scientific Discovery, 2001.

Wikipedia, "Thule" (accessed Jan. 4, 2019).

Wikipedia, "(486958) 2014 MU69" (accessed Jan. 4, 2019).

NASA, "New Horizons Chooses Nickname for 'Ultimate' Flyby Target," March 13, 2018.

"Is This the Reason Ireland Converted to Christianity?," Smithsonian Channel, June 26, 2014.

Mike Wall, "How Halley's Comet Is Linked to a Famine 1,500 Years Ago," NBC News, Dec. 19 2013.

Colin Barras, "The Year of Darkness," New Scientist 221:2952 (2014), 34-38.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Jeff King.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jan 14, 2019
231-The Halifax Explosion
32:19

In 1917, a munitions ship exploded in Halifax, Nova Scotia, devastating the city and shattering the lives of its citizens. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow the events of the disaster, the largest man-made explosion before Hiroshima, and the grim and heroic stories of its victims.

We'll also consider the dangers of cactus plugging and puzzle over why a man would agree to be assassinated.

Intro:

In 1989 an unmanned Soviet MiG-23 flew all the way from Poland to Belgium.

In 1793 architect Sir James Hall fashioned a model of Westminster Abbey from rods of willow.

Sources for our story on the Halifax explosion:

John U. Bacon, The Great Halifax Explosion, 2017.

Laura M. Mac Donald, Curse of the Narrows, 2005.

Ken Cuthbertson, "The Horrors of the Halifax Explosion," Queen's Quarterly 125:4 (Winter 2018), 510-529.

Joseph Scanlon, "Dealing With Mass Death After a Community Catastrophe: Handling Bodies After the 1917 Halifax Explosion," Disaster Prevention and Management 7:4 (1998), 288-304.

Jesse N. Bradley, "The December 6, 1917, Halifax Explosion Was the Largest Man-Made Non-Nuclear Blast in History," Military History 19:5 (December 2002), 16.

Chryssa N. McAlister et al., "The Halifax Disaster (1917): Eye Injuries and Their Care," British Journal of Ophthalmology, 91:6 (June 2007), 832-835.

Meagan Campbell, "The Luckiest Man in Canada," Maclean's 130:2 (March 2017), 14-15.

Marc Wortman, "A Newly Discovered Diary Tells the Harrowing Story of the Deadly Halifax Explosion," Smithsonian.com, July 14, 2017.

Canadian Encyclopedia, "Halifax Explosion" (accessed 12/24/2018).

"Halifax Explosion," Nova Scotia Legislature (accessed 12/24/2018).

Bertram Chambers, "Halifax Explosion," Naval Review 8 [1920], 445-457.

https://books.google.com/books?id=oKtAAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA445

"The Work of Rehabilitating Halifax," Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen's Magazine 64:2 (Jan. 15, 1918), 18.

"The Halifax Disaster Brings the Hazards of War Close to American Citizens," Current Opinion 64:1 (January 1918), 4-6.

"The Halifax Disaster of December 6, 1917, in Its Relation to Blindness," Proceedings, American Association of Instructors of the Blind 24th Biennial Convention, 55-58.

Will Ashton, "Tales of a Forgotten Disaster: Before Hiroshima, There Was Halifax," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 3, 2018, D-6.

Ian Austen, "The Halifax Explosion and Au Revoir to Hi: The Canada Letter," New York Times, Dec. 8, 2017.

Steve Hendrix, "Two Ships Collided in Halifax Harbor. One of Them Was a Floating, 3,000-Ton Bomb," Washington Post, Dec. 6, 2017.

Ian Austen, "Century After Halifax’s Great Explosion, City Marks Anniversary," New York Times, Dec. 6, 2017.

Dean Jobb, "The Halifax Explosion Still Reverberates," Globe and Mail, Dec. 2, 2017, 27.

Brett Bundale, "The Silence After the Blast: How the Halifax Explosion Was Nearly Forgotten," Canadian Press, Nov. 30, 2017.

"Survivors Mark Halifax Explosion," North Bay [Ontario] Nugget, Dec. 7, 2005, A8.

"Halifax Bomb Likely Relic of 1917 Explosion Bomb Found in Harbour Probably Came From Munitions Ship That Triggered Massive Halifax Explosion," [Moncton, N.B.] Times & Transcript, April 27, 1999.

Graeme Hamilton, "Lost in a Flash: The 1917 Halifax Explosion," [St. Catharines, Ontario] Standard, Dec. 6, 1997, D12.

"The Halifax Explosion," New York Times, May 23, 1995.

"'Unholy Horror' of the Halifax Explosion," Ottawa Citizen, Dec. 6, 1992, E12.

"Capt. Francis Mackey; Pilot of Vessel in the 1917 Halifax Explosion Dies," New York Times, Jan. 1, 1962.

"Halifax Blast Recalled," New York Times, Dec. 7, 1955.

"Joseph Quirk; Halifax Explosion Survivor Had Many Escapes From Death," New York Times, Jan. 15, 1940.

"Prince of Wales Sees Halifax Ruins," New York Times, Aug. 19, 1919.

"Commander Wyatt Held," New York Times, March 21, 1918.

"Appeal for Halifax Blind," New York Times, Jan. 27, 1918.

"Halifax Buries 200 Dead," New York Times, Dec. 18, 1917.

"Fund for Halifax Blind," New York Times, Dec. 16, 1917.

"Halifax Death Roll Is Fixed at 1,266," New York Times, Dec. 13, 1917.

"Halifax Appeals for $25,000,000 to Aid Victims," New York Times, Dec. 10, 1917.

"Americans Escape Death at Halifax," New York Times, Dec. 10, 1917.

"Prevented Second Halifax Explosion," New York Times, Dec. 10, 1917.

"German Citizens of Halifax Are Being Arrested," Berkeley (Calif.) Daily Gazette, Dec. 10, 1917.

"Halifax Now Counts Its Dead at 4,000," New York Times, Dec. 9, 1917.

"Richmond an Appalling Waste After Explosion and Fires," New York Times, Dec. 9, 1917.

"Fragments Hurled 5 Miles," New York Times, Dec. 9, 1917.

"The Halifax Horror," New York Times, Dec. 8, 1917.

"Blizzard Adds to the Halifax Horror," New York Times, Dec. 8, 1917.

"Carried 2,800 Tons of Explosives," New York Times, Dec. 8, 1917.

"Call Scene Worse Than Battlefield," New York Times, Dec. 8, 1917.

"Halifax Thought of German Shelling as Shock Came," New York Times, Dec. 7, 1917.

"Disaster in Halifax Kills Thousand People," Daily Alaskan, Dec. 6, 1917.

"Dead and Dying Line Streets of Halifax After an Explosion," Alaska Daily Empire, Dec. 6, 1917.

"100 Years After the Great Halifax Explosion," Morning Edition, National Public Radio, Dec. 6, 2017.

Listener mail:

Stacey Leasca, "So Many Cacti Are Getting Stolen From Arizona's National Park, They're Being Microchipped," Travel + Leisure, March 24, 2018.

Wikipedia, "Saguaro" (accessed Dec. 23, 2018).

Snopes, "Death by Saguaro," Feb. 8, 2015.

"Plant of the Week: Saguaro Cactus," University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Dec. 12, 2008.

"Ariz. Man in Intensive Care After Being Pinned by 16-Foot Cactus," CBS News, June 22, 2012.

Matthew Hendley, "Yuma Man Crushed by 16-Foot Cactus Lands in 'Ripley's Believe It or Not,'" Phoenix New Times, Sept. 13, 2013.

Wikipedia, "Liquid-Crystal Display" (accessed Dec. 24, 2018).

Mentour Pilot, "Which Pilot Sunglasses to Buy," Oct. 5, 2017.

Captain Joe, "Why Pilots Can't Wear Polarized Sunglasses," Sept. 7, 2017.

Kyle Wiens, "iPhones are Allergic to Helium," iFixIt.org, Oct. 30, 2018.

"Does Helium Break iPhones," iFixit Video, Nov. 2, 2018.

"MEMs Oscillator Sensitivity to Helium (Helium Kills iPhones)," Applied Science, Nov. 18, 2018.

Listener Callie Bunker, her Christmas tree ship sweatshirt, and Chicago's commemorative plaque.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Peter Bartholomew. Here are two corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle). 

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website. Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jan 07, 2019
230-Lateral Thinking Puzzles
29:54

Here are six new lateral thinking puzzles -- play along with us as we try to untangle some perplexing situations using yes-or-no questions.

The sources for this week's puzzles are below. In a few places we've included links to further information -- these contain spoilers, so don't click until you've listened to the episode:

Puzzle #1 was contributed by listener Phil Moore. Here are two corroborating links.

Puzzle #2 is from Jed's List of Situation Puzzles.

Puzzle #3 is adapted from Edward J. Harshman's 1996 book Fantastic Lateral Thinking Puzzles.

Puzzle #4 is from Greg. Here's a link.

Puzzle #5 was inspired by an item on the podcast No Such Thing as a Fish. Here are two links.

Puzzle #6 is from listener Dave Capozzi, who sent this link.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Dec 24, 2018
229-The Stone of Destiny
30:46

 

In 1950, four patriotic Scots broke in to Westminster Abbey to steal the Stone of Scone, a symbol of Scottish independence that had lain there for 600 years. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow the memorable events of that evening and their meaning for the participants, their nation, and the United Kingdom.

We'll also evade a death ray and puzzle over Santa's correspondence.

Intro:

In the 1920s Massachusetts mechanical engineer Elis Stenman fashioned a house out of pressed newspaper.

Julijonas Urbonas' Euthanasia Coaster is designed to kill its riders.

Sources for our story on the Stone of Scone:

Ian Hamilton, The Taking of the Stone of Destiny, 1991.

Warwick Rodwell, The Coronation Chair and Stone of Scone, 2013.

Ian Hamilton, "How We Stole the Stone of Scone," Life, May 14, 1951, 141-153.

Antonia Kearton, "Imagining the 'Mongrel Nation': Political Uses of History in the Recent Scottish Nationalist Movement," National Identities 7:1 (March 2005), 23-50.

H.J. Hanham, "The Scottish Nation Faces the Post-Imperial World," International Journal 23:4 (December 1, 1968).

"Stone of Scone Thief Questions," Times, Dec. 21, 2015, 8.

Victoria Ward, "Stone of Scone 'Should Not Automatically Be Loaned to England for Next Coronation,'" Telegraph, Dec. 20, 2015.

"Kay Matheson: Obituaries Teacher and Ardent Nationalist Who Helped 'Reclaim' the Stone of Scone From Westminster Abbey," Daily Telegraph, July 15, 2013, 25.

"Woman Who Took Stone of Destiny Back to Scotland Dies," BBC News, July 8, 2013.

Olga Craig, "Ian Hamilton on Stone of Destiny: I Felt I Was Holding Scotland's Soul," Telegraph, Dec. 14, 2008.

Auslan Cramb, "Stone of Destiny Is Fake, Claims Alex Salmond," Telegraph, June 16, 2008.

Gillian Bowditch, "Stone Reunion in Hamilton's Destiny," Sunday Times, Nov. 4, 2007, 5.

"Obituary of Gavin Vernon," Daily Telegraph, March 26, 2004, 29.

"Took Part in Stone of Scone Theft," Montreal Gazette, March 26, 2004, E8.

Joanne Laucius, "Repatriation of Stone of Scone Is a Story Prankster Scotsman Gavin Vernon Brought to Canada and Leaves Behind Upon His Death," CanWest News, March 25, 2004, 1.

Jim Gilchrist, "Stone That Stole Nation's Heart," Scotsman, Dec. 9, 2000, 11.

Michael Fry, "A Dark Date With Destiny," [Glasgow] Herald, Sept. 2, 1999, 19.

Jack O'Sullivan, "Where Does the Real Stone of Scone Lie?", Independent, July 9, 1999.

Michael White, "Stone of Scone Going Home After 700 Years," Guardian, July 4, 1996.

Gillian Bowditch, "Unsolved Riddle of the Real Relic," Times, July 4, 1996, 1.

Archibald Rollo, "The Christmas They Stole the Stone of Destiny," Vancouver Sun, Dec. 24, 1993, E1.

"London Police Foil Effort to Take Stone of Scone," New York Times, Sept. 5, 1974.

"Stone of Scone Put Back in Royal Chair in Abbey," New York Times, June 2, 1953.

"Stone of Scone Guarded; Scotland Yard Takes Precaution at Westminster Abbey," New York Times, Dec. 26, 1952.

"Scots Call for Stone of Scone," New York Times, April 28, 1952.

"Medieval Tourney Urged," New York Times, March 29, 1952.

"Stone of Scone Restored Quietly," New York Times, Feb. 27, 1952.

"Stone of Scone Case Off," Associated Press, April 20, 1951.

"Coronation Stone Back in London," New York Times, April 14, 1951.

"Scots Press Drive to Keep Stone of Scone," New York Times, April 13, 1951.

Clifton Daniel, "Scots Surrender Stone of Scone," New York Times, April 12, 1951.

Clifton Daniel, "Stone of Scone Thieves Traced, But Scotland Yard Delays Arrests," New York Times, April 3, 1951.

"Clue to Stone of Scone," New York Times, Feb. 1, 1951.

"Stone Clue Stirs Scots," New York Times, Dec. 31, 1950.

"Scotch on the Rock," New York Times, Dec. 31, 1950.

"New 'Confession' in Stone of Scone Theft," New York Times, Dec. 30, 1950.

"London Lake Is Dragged," New York Times, Dec. 29, 1950.

"Wristwatch Held Abbey Theft Clue," New York Times, Dec. 28, 1950.

"The Stone of Scone," New York Times, Dec. 27, 1950.

"Theft of Stone of Scone Still Puzzle as Police Uncover Only 3 Initials," New York Times, Dec. 27, 1950.

"Coronation Stone Is Stolen From Westminster Abbey," New York Times, Dec. 26, 1950.

P.J. Philip, "Coronation Stone Is Back in Westminster," New York Times, April 9, 1946.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Sarah T. Hughes" (accessed Dec. 8, 2018).

Wikipedia, "First Inauguration of Lyndon B. Johnson" (accessed Dec. 8, 2018).

Wikipedia, "Calvin Coolidge: Presidency" (accessed Dec. 10, 2018).

Harry Rosehill, "The Walkie Talkie Death Ray Could Actually Have Killed Someone," Londonist, Nov. 23, 2018.

Jiajie Zhu, Wolfram Jahn, and Guillermo Rein, "Computer Simulation of Sunlight Concentration Due to Façade Shape: Application to the 2013 Death Ray at Fenchurch Street, London," Journal of Building Performance Simulation, Nov. 22, 2018.

Sixty Symbols, "How to Melt Cars and BBQ Pigeons," Sept. 4, 2013.

Rose Palazzolo, "British Sculpture Could Fry Birds," ABC News, March 7, 2018.

Davidson Institute, "Solar Furnace," Dec. 25, 2014 (turn on "CC" to see English captions).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Sharon based on an item in Dan Lewis' Now I Know newsletter. Here are three corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website. Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Dec 17, 2018
228-The Children's Champion
33:29

Polish educator Janusz Korczak set out to remake the world just as it was falling apart. In the 1930s his Warsaw orphanage was an enlightened society run by the children themselves, but he struggled to keep that ideal alive as Europe descended into darkness. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the children's champion and his sacrifices for the orphans he loved.

We'll also visit an incoherent space station and puzzle over why one woman needs two cars.

Intro:

Elbert Hubbard and his wife decided on a final gesture aboard the sinking Lusitania.

E.E. Cummings dedicated his 1935 collection of poetry to the 14 publishing houses that rejected it.

Sources for our story on Janusz Korczak:

Betty Jean Lifton, The King of Children, 1988.

Adir Cohen, The Gate of Light, 1994.

E.P. Kulawiec, ed., The Warsaw Ghetto Memoirs of Janusz Korczak, 1979.

Marc Silverman, A Pedagogy of Humanist Moral Education: The Educational Thought of Janusz Korczak, 2017.

Susan J. Berger, "The Children's Advocate: Janusz Korczak," American Educational History Journal 33:2 (2006), 137-142.

Robert Leiter, "For the Sake of Children," Jewish Exponent, April 6, 2000, 59.

Liba H. Engel, "Does School Reform Have Legs? The Flourishing of Janusz Korczak's Pedagogy in Modern Israel," Educational Forum 68:2 (Winter 2004), 170-179.

Reinhold Boschki, "Re-Reading Martin Buber and Janusz Korczak: Fresh Impulses Toward a Relational Approach to Religious Education," Religious Education 100:2 (Spring 2005), 114-126.

Liba H. Engel, "Experiments in Democratic Education: Dewey's Lab School and Korczak's Children's Republic," Social Studies 99:3 (May/June 2008), 117-121.

Robert Leiter, "'Who Is That Man?' In the End, He Was the Comforter of Lost Children," Jewish Exponent, June 10, 2004, 32.

Daniel Feldman, "Honoring the Child's Right to Respect: Janusz Korczak as Holocaust Educator," The Lion and the Unicorn 40:2 (April 2016), 129-143.

Martha J. Ignaszewski, Kevin Lichtenstein, and Maya Ignaszewski, "Dr. Janusz Korczak and His Legacy," British Columbia Medical Journal 55:2 (March 2013), 108-110.

Gabriel Eichsteller, "Janusz Korczak -- His Legacy and Its Relevance for Children's Rights Today," International Journal of Children's Rights 17:3 (July 2009), 377-391.

Sara Efrat Efron, "Moral Education Between Hope and Hopelessness: The Legacy of Janusz Korczak," Curriculum Inquiry 38:1 (January 2008), 39-62.

Aleksander Lewin and Agnieszka Bolczynska, "Janusz Korczak Is Greater Than His Legend: The Saint of All Creeds," Dialogue & Universalism 11:9/10 (2001), 75.

Marie Syrkin, "The Saint in the Ghetto," New Republic 198:23 (June 6, 1988), 44.

Yerachmiel Weingarten, "Janusz Korczak -- Living Legend of Warsaw," Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Dec. 8, 1944.

Vivian Eden, "Korczak Controversy," Jerusalem Post, April 14, 1989, 7.

Amy O'Brian, "Exhibit Honours Hero of the Holocaust," Vancouver Sun, Oct. 21, 2002, B2.

Eva Hoffman, "My Hero: Janusz Korczak," Guardian, April 8, 2011.

James MacDonald, "Himmler Program Kills Polish Jews," New York Times, Nov. 25, 1942.

Gabrielle Glaser, "Warsaw Journal; Where Children Are Taught Survival," New York Times, May 30, 1992.

Vincent Canby, "Of a Saintly Jewish Doctor in Poland Who Died at Treblinka," New York Times, April 12, 1991.

Betty Jean Lifton, "Wajda's 'Korczak'; Human Values, Inhuman Time," New York Times, May 5, 1991.

Stephen Engelberg, "Wajda's 'Korczak' Sets Loose the Furies," New York Times, April 14, 1991.

Carolyn A. Murphy, "The King of Children," New York Times, Aug. 21, 1988.

Geoffrey Wolff, "A Saint's Life in Warsaw," New York Times, July 31, 1988.

Betty Jean Lifton, "Shepherd of the Ghetto Orphans," New York Times, April 20, 1980.

James Feron, "Awarding of a West German Peace Prize Stirs Memories of a Wartime Martyr of the Warsaw Ghetto," New York Times, Oct. 1, 1972.

"Parenting Advice From a Polish Holocaust Hero," Weekend All Things Considered, NPR, March 3, 2007.

Listener mail:

Annalee Newitz, "Movie Written by Algorithm Turns Out to Be Hilarious and Intense," Ars Technica, June 9, 2016.

Dyllan Furness, "'Sunspring' Is an Absurd Sci-Fi Short Film Written By AI, Starring Thomas Middleditch," Digital Trends, June 10, 2016.

Jacob Brogan, "An Artificial Intelligence Scripted This Short Film, But Humans Are Still the Real Stars," Slate, June 9, 2016.

Amanda Kooser, "AI-Written Film 'Sunspring' a Surreal Delight, Upchucked Eyeball Included," CNET, June 13, 2016.

"HAL 90210," "This Is What Happens When an AI-Written Screenplay Is Made Into a Film," Guardian, June 10, 2016.

Max Woolf, "I trained an (actual) AI on the titles of BuzzFeed YouTube videos and it generated some *interesting* results," Twitter, Nov. 19, 2018.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener B Vann.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Dec 10, 2018
227-The Christmas Tree Ship
32:27

In the late 1800s Chicago families bought their Christmas trees from the decks of schooners that had ferried them across Lake Michigan. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll meet Herman Schuenemann, known as "Captain Santa," who brought Christmas to the city for 30 years until a fateful storm overtook him.

We'll also peruse some possums and puzzle over a darkening phone.

Intro:

In 1991 a Yale physician proposed naming toes.

No one's quite sure how cats navigate.

Photo: Herman Schuenemann, center, with W.K. Vanaman, left, and a Mr. Colberg aboard a Christmas tree ship in the Chicago River, 1909. Sources for our story:

Fred Neuschel, Lives & Legends of the Christmas Tree Ships, 2007.

Larry Peterson, "The Legend of the Christmas Ship," Wisconsin Magazine of History 96:2 (Winter 2012/2013), 28-39.

Glenn V. Longacre, "The Christmas Tree Ship," Prologue 38:4 (Winter 2006), 6-12.

Shannon Marie Lange, Chicago Shipwrecks: Disasters and Their Impact on Maritime Law, dissertation, Southern New Hampshire University, 2017.

Fred Neuschel, "Sailors as Entrepreneurs in a Great Lakes Maritime Village," Northern Mariner 8 (1998), 65-82.

Fred Hollister, "Loss of the Christmas Tree Schooner," Sea Classics 39:5 (May 2006), 50-55.

Amy Meyer, "Rouse Simmons Mystery Still Relevant," [Manitowoc, Wis.] Herald Times Reporter, Nov. 1, 2015.

Kevin Collier, "Is 'Christmas Tree Ship' a Ghost of Christmas Past?" TCA Regional News, Dec. 22, 2014.

"Lake Michigan Almost Canceled Christmas," Battle Creek [Mich.] Enquirer, Nov. 30, 2014.

Doug Moe, "Film Tells Tale of Christmas Tree Ship," Wisconsin State Journal, Nov. 29, 2013.

John Gurda, "'Christmas Tree Ship' Went Down on the Lake 100 Years Ago," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dec. 1, 2012.

Meg Jones, "Events Mark 100 Year Anniversary of Sinking of Christmas Tree Ship," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 22, 2012.

Jordan Tilkens, "Centennial Celebration Commemorates Sunken Ship," [Appleton, Wis.] Post-Crescent, Nov. 22, 2012.

Jordan Tilkens, "Two Rivers Museum Marks 100th Anniversary of 'Christmas Tree Ship' Sinking," Green Bay [Wis.] Press Gazette, Nov. 21, 2012.

Tony Trowbridge, "When the Christmas Spirit Foundered in Chicago," Chicago Tribune, Nov. 11, 2012.

Kristopher Wenn, "Smaller Stories Fill Christmas Tree Ship's History," [Manitowoc, Wis.] Herald Times, Nov. 18, 2007.

Dennis McCann, "Christmas Tree Ship Surfaces in Memory," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 12, 2006.

Mike Michaelson, "Algoma Remembers 19th-Century Christmas Tree Ships," [Arlington Heights, Ill.] Daily Herald, Nov. 21, 2004.

Susan Smith, "89 Years Later ... ; Legend of Famed But Ill-Fated Christmas Tree Ship Revived," Wisconsin State Journal, Dec. 2, 2001.

"Coast Guard Re-Enacts 'Christmas Tree' Voyages," Associated Press, Dec. 4, 2000.

David Young, "The Fir Trade Separating Fact From Legend in Loss of Christmas Tree Ship," Chicago Tribune, Dec. 26, 1999.

David Young, "A Tall Order Milwaukee Schooner Being Built to Meet a Solid Heritage," Chicago Tribune, Oct. 4, 1998.

Margaret H. Plevak, "The Ship That Never Arrived Schooner Loaded With Yule Trees Vanished in Lake," Milwaukee Journal, Dec. 8, 1992.

"Large Christmas Tree Crop," Michigan Manufacturer & Financial Record 14:24 (Dec. 12, 1914), 27.

"Heart to Heart Talks," Successful Farming 12:12 (December 1913), 81.

"Chicago Notes," Horticulture 18:18 (Nov. 1, 1913), 611.

"Christmas Tree in Crepe; Mourning Recalls to Chicagoans Death of Lake Captain and Crew," New York Times, Dec. 26, 1912.

"Has Christmas Tree Widow; Chicago to Be Supplied with Firs, Despite Schooner's Wreck," New York Times, Dec. 11, 1912.

"Had Fifteen on Board," Lemmon [S.D.] Herald, Dec. 6, 1912.

"Christmas Tree Ship Lost; Wreckage of Old Schooner Washed Ashore in Lake Michigan," New York Times, Dec. 5, 1912.

"Vessel With 15 Men Lost," Rock Island [Ill.] Argus, Dec. 4, 1912.

"To Greet Santa Claus," Fruit Trade Journal and Produce Record 46:10 (Dec. 9, 1911), 6.

"Notes," American Florist 35:1174 (Dec. 3, 1910), 937.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Opossum" (accessed Nov. 21, 2018).

Wikipedia, "Powhatan Language" (accessed Nov. 21, 2018).

Ann Gibbons, "Why 536 Was 'The Worst Year to Be Alive,'" Science, Nov. 15, 2018.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days: The Standard of Truth: 1815–1846, 2018.

"Downing Street's Larry the Cat Gets a Helping Hand From Police," BBC News, Nov. 20, 2018.

"Hilarious Moment Downing Street Policeman Knocks on Number 10 to Let Larry Cat In," Sun, Nov. 20, 2018.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Scott Richards.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Dec 03, 2018
226-The Great Match Race
35:56

America's first national sports spectacle took place in 1823, when the North and South sent their best horses for a single dramatic race that came to symbolize the regional tensions of a changing nation. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Great Match Race, which laid the foundations of modern American thoroughbred racing.

We'll also ponder a parasite's contribution to culture and puzzle over a misinformed criminal.

Intro:

Quentin Tarantino's cast and crew left greetings to his editor in their work.

The first subject in Anton Reicha's Fugue No. 18 is a single note repeated 34 times.

Sources for our feature on the Great Match Race:

John Eisenberg, The Great Match Race, 2006.

Nancy L. Struna, "The North-South Races: American Thoroughbred Racing in Transition, 1823-1850," Journal of Sport History 8:2 (Summer 1981), 28-57.

Paul E. Johnson, "Northern Horse: American Eclipse as a Representative New Yorker," Journal of the Early Republic 33:4 (Winter 2013), 701-726.

Katherine Carmines Mooney, Race Horse Men: Slavery and Freedom at the Nineteenth-Century Racetrack, dissertation, Yale University, 2012.

Richard Nash, "Joy and Pity: Reading Animal Bodies in Late Eighteenth-Century Culture," Eighteenth Century 52:1 (Spring 2011), 47-67.

Michael S. Rosenwald, "Before Justify, There Was Eclipse and a Horse-Racing War Between North And South," Washington Post, May 19, 2018.

Oswald West, "Famous Horses and Horsemen of the Pioneer Period," Oregon Historical Quarterly 46:2 (June 1945), 140-155.

C.C. Colden, "The Great Match Race Between Eclipse and Sir Henry," Frank Forester's Horse and Horsemanship, 1857, 184-194.

Max Farrand, "The Great Race -- Eclipse Against the World!" Scribner's Magazine 70:4 (October 1921), 457-464.

"The Match Race," The Port Folio 16:255 (July 1823), 81-83.

W.E. Beard, "The War of the Roses," Trotwood's Monthly 3:2 (November 1906), 178-189.

"The Running Turf in America," Harper's New Monthly Magazine 241:41 (June 1870), 91-97.

Famous Horses of America, 1877.

James Douglas Anderson and Balie Peyton, Making the American Thoroughbred, 1916.

Listener mail:

Kevin D. Lafferty, "Can the Common Brain Parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, Influence Human Culture?" Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 273:1602 (2006), 2749-2755.

Jaroslav Flegr, "Influence of Latent Toxoplasma Infection on Human Personality, Physiology and Morphology: Pros and Cons of the Toxoplasma–Human Model in Studying the Manipulation Hypothesis," Journal of Experimental Biology 216:1 (2013), 127-133.

Jaroslav Flegr, Marek Preiss, and Jirí Klose, "Toxoplasmosis-Associated Difference in Intelligence and Personality in Men Depends on Their Rhesus Blood Group but Not Abo Blood Group," PLoS One 8:4 (2013), e61272.

M. Novotná et al. "Toxoplasma and Reaction Time: Role of Toxoplasmosis in the Origin, Preservation and Geographical Distribution of Rh Blood Group Polymorphism," Parasitology 135:11 (2008), 1253-1261.

Jaroslav Flegr et al. "Neurophysiological Effect of the Rh Factor: Protective Role of the RhD Molecule Against Toxoplasma-Induced Impairment of Reaction Times in Women," Neuroendocrinology Letters 29:4 (2008), 475.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener John Levine.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website. Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Nov 26, 2018
225-The Great Stork Derby
31:55

When Toronto attorney Charles Vance Millar died in 1926, he left behind a mischievous will that promised a fortune to the woman who gave birth to the most children in the next 10 years. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow the Great Stork Derby and the hope and controversy it brought to Toronto's largest families during the Great Depression.

We'll also visit some Portuguese bats and puzzle over a suspicious work crew.

Intro:

The programming language Shakespeare produces code that reads like a stage play.

In a qualification round for the 1994 Caribbean Cup, Barbados and Grenada seemed to switch sides.

Sources for our feature on the Great Stork Derby:

Mark M. Orkin, The Great Stork Derby, 1982.

In Re Estate of Charles Millar (1937), [1938] 1 D.L.R. 65 (Supreme Court of Canada).

Chris Bateman, "Historicist: The Great Stork Derby," Torontoist, Oct. 29, 2016.

David Goldenberg, "How a Dead Millionaire Convinced Dozens of Women to Have as Many Babies as Possible," Five Thirty Eight, Dec. 11, 2015.

Adam Bunch, "The Great Toronto Stork Derby — Why the City Went Baby Crazy During the Great Depression," Spacing Magazine, July 23, 2013.

Steuart Henderson Britt, "The Significance of the Last Will and Testament," Journal of Social Psychology 8:3 (August 1937), 347-353.

Peter Edwards, "1926 Will Sparked Toronto's Great 'Stork Derby,'" Toronto Star, Sept. 9, 2006.

"Big Family, Big Prize," Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jan. 17, 2002.

Douglas J. Johnston, "Will Power," The Beaver 81:4 (August/September 2001), 37-39.

Marty Gervais, "Stork Derby of '26 Meant to Tweak Beaks of Clergy," Windsor Star, June 23, 2000.

Craig Zawada, "Dumb Moments in Legal History," Saskatchewan Business 20:6 (Nov. 1, 1999), 7.

Pat MacAdam, "The Mischievous Will: Toronto the Good Left Shaken by Staid Lawyer's Quirky Last Wishes," Ottawa Citizen, Aug. 2, 1999.

John Picton, "Lawyer's Will Started Baby Boom," Toronto Star, Feb. 26, 1989.

Kathleen Walker, "Stork Derby Strangest of Lawyer's Bequests," Ottawa Citizen, Dec. 14, 1981.

Susan Schwartz, "Prim Toronto Was Site of Baby Race," Montreal Gazette, Dec. 9, 1981.

"Mrs. Annie Smith," New York Times, Jan. 21, 1948.

"Toronto Bequest Provides for Second 'Stork Derby,'" New York Times, March 12, 1946.

"Stork Derby Victors Lonely for Children," New York Times, July 6, 1938.

"Topics of the Times," New York Times, June 1, 1938.

"Last of 'Stork Derby'?", Ottawa Evening Citizen, May 31, 1938.

"'Stork Derby' Winners Paid," New York Times, May 30, 1938.

"Stork Derby' Prize Awarded 4 Women," New York Times, March 20, 1938.

"Justice 'Troubled' in Baby Derby Plea," New York Times, Feb. 27, 1938.

"Four Mothers of Nine Win Shares in $500,000 Stork Derby Cash," New York Times, Feb. 13, 1938.

"Has Her 12th Baby," New York Times, Jan. 6, 1938.

"Stork Derby' Will Upheld on Appeal," New York Times, Dec. 23, 1937.

"Toronto Baby Race Upheld on Appeal," New York Times, Feb. 24, 1937.

"Lady Astor Declares Stork Derby 'Horror,'" New York Times, Nov. 29, 1936.

"Stork Derby Will Upheld by Court," New York Times, Nov. 21, 1936.

"'Baby Clause' Held Valid in Millar Will," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 19, 1936.

"Ruling on Stork Promised in Week," New York Times, Nov. 17, 1936.

"Dr. Hayne Thinks Toronto Mothers in 'Piker' Class," [Spartanburg, S.C.] Herald-Journal, Nov. 4, 1936.

"Stork Derby 'Winner' Offers to Split Prize," New York Times, Nov. 2, 1936.

"Birth Derby Ends; 6 Mothers in 'Tie,'" New York Times, Nov. 1, 1936.

"Reaper at Finish Line in Baby Race," [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, Oct. 30, 1936.

"'Stork Derby' Will Is Attacked by Kin," New York Times, Oct. 29, 1936.

"Foul Is Claimed in Baby Derby," [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, Oct. 27, 1936.

"Stork Derby Rule Taken by Premier," New York Times, Oct. 24, 1936.

"To Fight Baby Derby Fund," New York Times, Oct. 16, 1936.

"Threats in 'Baby Derby,'" New York Times, Aug. 30, 1936.

"Another Baby Enters $500,000 Stork Derby," New York Times, Aug. 18, 1936.

"12 in Toronto Stork Race, Parents of 89, Join Party," New York Times, Aug. 1, 1936.

"Mrs. Kenny Leads in Stork Derby," Nashua [N.H.] Telegraph, Feb. 6, 1936.

"'Dark Horse' in 'Stork Derby' Now Believes in Birth Control," Milwaukee Journal, Nov. 29, 1935.

Phillis Griffiths, "Stork Derby Field Scorns Split Prize," New York Times, Sept. 15, 1935.

"$500,000 Carried by Toronto Stork," New York Times, Sept. 8, 1935.

"Toronto 'Baby' Will Safe," New York Times, Sept. 7, 1935.

"12 in Toronto Stork Race, Parents of 89, Join Party," New York Times, Aug. 1, 1936.

"The Commonwealth: Birth Race," Time, Dec. 20, 1926.

Listener mail:

"I Met a Celebrity at the London Openhouse!! Lord Palmerston, The Fuzzy," Reddit London, Sept. 24, 2018.

Rachel Nuwer, "Bats Act As Pest Control at Two Old Portuguese Libraries," Smithsonian.com, Sept. 19, 2013.

Julie H. Case, "These Portuguese Libraries Are Infested With Bats -- and They Like It That Way," Smithsonian.com, June 7, 2018.

Patricia Kowsmann, "The Bats Help Preserve Old Books But They Drive Librarians, Well, Batty," Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2018.

Universidade de Coimbra Library.

Christina Caron, "Zanesville Animal Massacre Included 18 Rare Bengal Tigers," ABC News, Oct. 19, 2011.

Kathy Thompson, "Ohio Exotic Animal Owner Speaks Out 1st Time Since Ordeal," [Zanesville, Ohio] Times Recorder, Oct. 18, 2012.

"William Walker: Diver Who Saved Winchester Cathedral Remembered," BBC News, Oct. 6, 2018.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listeners Wil, Cassidy, and Sydney, inspired by an item on 99 Percent Invisible (warning -- this link spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Nov 19, 2018
224-Lady Death
34:09

Lyudmila Pavlichenko was training for a career as a history teacher when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. She suspended her studies to enlist as a sniper in the Red Army, where she discovered a remarkable talent for shooting enemy soldiers. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll trace the career of "Lady Death," the deadliest female sniper in history.

We'll also learn where in the world futility.closet.podcast is and puzzle over Air Force One.

Intro:

Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes creates a host of puzzles in the philosophy of art.

German architect Herman Sörgel wanted to dam the Congo to create two African seas.

Sources for our feature on Lyudmila Pavlichenko:

Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Lady Death: The Memoirs of Stalin's Sniper, 2018.

Roger Reese, "Soviet Women at War," Military History 28:1 (May 2011), 44-53,5.

Drew Lindsay, "Why Not Send Women to War?" MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History 25:3 (Spring 2013), 50-55, 58-61.

Karl E. Friedl, "Biases of the Incumbents: What If We Were Integrating Men Into a Women's Army?" Military Review 96:2 (March/April 2016), 69-75.

Jonathan W. Jordan, "Master of the Long Rifle," MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History 18:4 (Summer 2006), 49-53.

D'Ann Campbell, "Women in Combat: The World War II Experience in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and the Soviet Union," Journal of Military History 57:2 (April 1993), 301-323.

E.M. Tenney, "Mrs. Roosevelt, the Russian Sniper, and Me," American Heritage 43:2 (April 1992), 28.

John Kass, "This Soldier's Skill Had Nothing to Do With Gender," Chicago Tribune, Jan. 25, 2013.

Peter Sheridan, "Meet Lady Death: The Deadliest Female Sniper That Ever Lived," Express, Feb. 5, 2018.

Marea Donnelly, "'Lady Death' Sniper Made 309 Kills After Young Comrade Shot," Daily Telegraph, July 12, 2016, 23.

Gilbert King, "Eleanor Roosevelt and the Soviet Sniper," Smithsonian.com, Feb. 21, 2013.

Alex Lockie, "Meet the World's Deadliest Female Sniper Who Terrorized Hitler's Nazi Army," Independent, March 18, 2018.

"Soviet Girl Sniper Learned to Shoot as University Co-Ed," [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, August 28, 1942, 2-X.

"Africa a Prelude, Maisky Declares," New York Times, Nov. 15, 1942.

"Rifle Match Proposed," New York Times, Sept. 3, 1942.

Public Radio International, "The Life and Myths of Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Soviet Russia's Deadliest Sniper," PRI's The World, March 9, 2018.

"Sharp-Shooting Women Best Soviet Snipers," USA Today Magazine, 135:2739 (December 2006), 3-4.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Maidenhead Locator System" (accessed Nov. 3, 2018).

Wikipedia, "Contesting" (accessed Nov. 4, 2018).

"An Evaluation of Location Encoding Systems," GitHub (accessed Nov. 9, 2018).

Our territory on What3Words.

Meh.

Gfycat.

The Silly Party takes Luton.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Greg. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Nov 12, 2018
223-The Prince of Forgers
33:20

Denis Vrain-Lucas was an undistinguished forger until he met gullible collector Michel Chasles. Through the 1860s Lucas sold Chasles thousands of phony letters by everyone from Plato to Louis the 14th, earning thousands of francs and touching off a firestorm among confused scholars. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll trace the career of the world's most prolific forger.

We'll also count Queen Elizabeth's eggs and puzzle over a destroyed car.

Intro:

In 2011 Australian architect Horst Kiechle sculpted a human torso from paper.

English historian Thomas Birch went angling dressed as a tree.

Sources for our feature on Denis Vrain-Lucas:

Joseph Rosenblum, Prince of Forgers, 1998.

Michael Farquhar, A Treasury of Deception, 2005.

John Whitehead, This Solemn Mockery, 1973.

James Anson Farrer, Literary Forgeries, 1907.

Rebekah Higgitt, "'Newton Dépossédé!' The British Response to the Pascal Forgeries of 1867," British Journal for the History of Science 36:131 (December 2003), 437-453.

Stephen Ornes, "Descartes' Decipherer," Nature 483:7391 (March 29, 2012), 540.

R.A. Rosenbaum, "Michel Chasles and the Forged Autograph Letters," Mathematics Teacher 52:5 (May 1959), 365-366.

Ken Alder, "History's Greatest Forger: Science, Fiction, and Fraud along the Seine," Critical Inquiry 30:4 (2004), 702-716.

Bruce Whiteman, "Practice to Deceive: The Amazing Stories of Literary Forgery's Most Notorious Practitioners, by Joseph Rosenblum," Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada 39:1 (2001).

"Missives Impossible: Fake News Is Nothing New -- Even Isaac Newton Was a Victim, Says Stephen Ornes," New Scientist 236:3157/3158 (Dec. 23, 2017), 76-77.

Steve Kemper, "Signs of the Times," Smithsonian 28:8 (November 1997), 134-140.

Cullen Murphy, "Knock It Off," Atlantic Monthly 294:5 (December 2004), 187-188.

Paul Gray, "Fakes That Have Skewed History," Time 121:20 (May 16, 1983), 58-61

Matthew Adams, "Archivist Talks About History of Forgery," University Wire, Oct. 24, 2014.

Charles Whibley, "Of Literary Forgers," Cornhill Magazine 12:71 (May 1902), 624-636.

"Literary Frauds and Forgers," Washington Times, Aug. 13, 1907.

"Literary Forgers," New York Times, May 17, 1902.

"Personal Gossip," Charleston Daily News, Oct. 20, 1869.

Listener mail:

Ben Zimmer, "Particitrousers of the Revolutionary Movement," Language Log, Sept. 7, 2015.

Ben Zimmer, "Incorrections in the Newsroom: Cupertino and Beyond," Language Log, Feb. 1, 2008.

Ben Zimmer, "Hugh Jackilometresan," Language Log, Jan. 4, 2017.

Ben Zimmer, "It Was As If a Light Had Been Nookd ...," Language Log, June 1, 2012.

Eddie Wrenn, "eBook Replaces All Mentions of the Word 'Kindle' With Rival 'Nook' -- and Ends Up Destroying War and Peace," Daily Mail, June 7, 2012.

"Poor Mr Anus, the Council Candidate Given a Bum Deal by Facebook," Guardian, Sept. 28, 2018.

Kevin Jackson, "Illusion / Right Before Your Very Eyes: Penn and Teller Do Magic, but the Real Trick Is That They Like to Give the Game Away," Independent, Jan. 30, 1993.

Wikipedia, "Japanese Name: Imperial Names" (accessed Oct. 25, 2018).

Wikipedia, "Akihito: Ichthyological Research" (accessed Oct. 25, 2018).

Russell Goldman, "5 Things to Know About Japan's Emperor and Imperial Family," New York Times, Aug. 8, 2016.

Akihito et al., "Speciation of Two Gobioid Species, Pterogobius elapoides and Pterogobius zonoleucus Revealed by Multi-Locus Nuclear and Mitochondrial DNA Analyses," Gene 576:2 (2016), 593-602.

Rob Beschizza, "Joachim Rønneberg, Saboteur Who Wrecked Nazi Nuke Program, Dies at 99," Boing Boing, Oct. 22, 2018.

"Joachim Roenneberg: Man Who Stopped Nazi Germany's Nuclear Ambitions Has Died, Aged 99, Norwegian Authorities Confirm," Reuters, Oct. 21, 2018.

"Joachim Ronneberg: Norwegian Who Thwarted Nazi Nuclear Plan Dies," BBC News, Oct. 22, 2018.

Robert D. McFadden, "Joachim Ronneberg, Leader of Raid That Thwarted a Nazi Atomic Bomb, Dies at 99," New York Times, Oct. 22, 2018.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Christopher McDonough. Here are three corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Nov 05, 2018
222-The Year Without a Summer
31:43

The eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 was a disaster for the Dutch East Indies, but its astonishing consequences were felt around the world, blocking the sun and bringing cold, famine, and disease to millions of people from China to the United States. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review the volcano's devastating effects and surprising legacy.

We'll also appreciate an inverted aircraft and puzzle over a resourceful barber.

Intro:

The Veterinary Record addressed an overlooked species in 1972.

Goats like towers.

Map: The 1816 summer temperature anomaly (°C) with respect to 1971-2000 climatology (data source).

Sources for our feature on the Tambora eruption:

Gillen D'Arcy Wood, Tambora, 2014.

William K. Klingaman and Nicholas P. Klingaman, The Year Without a Summer, 2013.

Angus M. Gunn, Encyclopedia of Disasters, 2008.

Jelle Zeilinga de Boer and Donald Theodore Sanders, Volcanoes in Human History, 2012.

Jihong Cole-Dai et al. "Cold Decade (AD 1810–1819) Caused by Tambora (1815) and Another (1809) Stratospheric Volcanic Eruption," Geophysical Research Letters 36:22 (November 2009).

Clive Oppenheimer, "Climatic, Environmental and Human Consequences of the Largest Known Historic Eruption: Tambora Volcano (Indonesia) 1815," Progress in Physical Geography 27:2 (2003), 230-259.

Bernice de Jong Boers, "Mount Tambora in 1815: A Volcanic Eruption in Indonesia and Its Aftermath," Indonesia 60 (October 1995), 37-60.

Chaochao Gao et al., "Climatic Aftermath of the 1815 Tambora Eruption in China," Journal of Meteorological Research 31:1 (February 2017), 28-38.

Richard B. Stothers, "The Great Tambora Eruption in 1815 and its Aftermath," Science, New Series 224:4654 (June 15, 1984), 1191-1198.

Shuji Cao, Yushang Li, and Bin Yang, "Mt. Tambora, Climatic Changes, and China's Decline in the Nineteenth Century," Journal of World History 23:3 (September 2012), 587-607.

Gillen D'Arcy Wood, "The Volcano Lover: Climate, Colonialism, and the Slave Trade in Raffles's History of Java (1817)," Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 8:2 (Fall/Winter 2008), 33-55.

Lucy Veale and Georgina H. Endfield, "Situating 1816, the 'Year Without Summer', in the UK," Geographical Journal 182:4 (December 2016), 318-330.

Christos S. Zerefos, et al., "Atmospheric Effects of Volcanic Eruptions as Seen by Famous Artists and Depicted in Their Paintings," Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 7:15 (2007), 4027-4042.

C.S. Zerefos, et al., "Further Evidence of Important Environmental Information Content in Red-to-Green Ratios as Depicted in Paintings by Great Masters," Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 14:6 (2014), 2987-3015.

Sarah Zielinski, "How Paintings of Sunsets Immortalize Past Volcanic Eruptions," Smithsonian.com, March 25, 2014.

Alan MacEachern, "The Big Chill," Canada's History 96:4 (August September 2016), 52-55.

Richard Cavendish, "The Eruption of Mount Tambora," History Today 65:4 (April 2015), 8.

Robert Evans, "Blast From the Past," Smithsonian 33:4 (July 2002), 52-57.

Michael Greshko, "201 Years Ago, This Volcano Caused a Climate Catastrophe," National Geographic, April 8, 2016.

William J. Broad, "A Volcanic Eruption That Reverberates 200 Years Later," New York Times, Aug. 24, 2015.

John Noble Wilford, "Under an 1815 Volcano Eruption, Remains of a 'Lost Kingdom,'" New York Times, Feb. 28, 2006.

Listener mail:

"Trudeau to Apologize Nov. 7 for 1939 Decision to Turn Away Jewish Refugees Fleeing Nazis," CBC News, Sept. 6, 2018.

"Trudeau to Offer Formal Apology in Commons for Fate of Jewish Refugee Ship MS St. Louis," CBC News, May 8, 2018.

David Harry, "Box-Top Bonanza: Portland Land Bank May Get Park Land for $6,400," Forecaster, Aug. 14, 2018.

"Owney: Tales From the Rails," Smithsonian National Postal Museum, March 6, 2018.

James Barron, "An Inverted Jenny Surfaces. The Flawed Stamp Had Not Been Seen Since 1918," New York Times, Sept. 6, 2018.

Daniel Fernandez, "How the Inverted Jenny, a 24-Cent Stamp, Came to Be Worth a Fortune," Smithsonian.com, May 15, 2018.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Frank Kroeger, inspired by Johann Peter Hebel's story "Der Barbierjunge von Segringen."

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Oct 29, 2018
221-The Mystery Man of Essex County
33:09

In 1882, a mysterious man using a false name married and murdered a well-to-do widow in Essex County, New York. While awaiting the gallows he composed poems, an autobiography, and six enigmatic cryptograms that have never been solved. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll examine the strange case of Henry Debosnys, whose true identity remains a mystery.

We'll also consider children's food choices and puzzle over a surprising footrace.

Intro:

In 1972 two Canadian scientists set out to figure the number of monsters in Loch Ness.

Winston Churchill's country home must always maintain a marmalade cat named Jock.

Sources for our feature on Henry Debosnys:

Cheri L. Farnsworth, Adirondack Enigma, 2010.

Craig P. Bauer, Unsolved!, 2017.

George Levi Brown, Pleasant Valley: A History of Elizabethtown, Essex County, New York, 1905.

Caroline Halstead Barton Royce, Bessboro: A History of Westport, Essex Co., N.Y., 1902.

"Debosnys Ciphers," The Cipher Foundation (accessed Oct. 7, 2018).

Craig P. Bauer, "When Killers Leave Ciphers," history.com, Nov. 14, 2017.

Nick Pelling, "Henry Debosnys and the Cimbria ... ?" Cipher Mysteries, Nov. 16, 2015.

Nick Pelling, "Thoughts on the Debosnys Ciphers ..." Cipher Mysteries, Nov. 7, 2015.

Nick Pelling, "The Person Not on the S.S.Cimbria ..." Cipher Mysteries, Nov. 17, 2015.

"Guilty of Wife Murder," [Washington D.C.] National Republican, March 8, 1883.

"Hangman's Day," [Wilmington, Del.] Daily Republican, April 28, 1883.

"A Murderer's Story," Burlington [Vt.] Weekly Free Press, Nov. 24, 1882.

"A Wife's Fearful Death," New York Times, Aug. 6, 1882.

"A Remarkable Man Hanged," New York Times, April 28, 1883.

The Troy Times of Nov. 23, 1882, had noted, "The prisoner spends his time writing verses, or what he thinks is poetry, and he has over a ream of foolscap paper closely written. Much of this doggerel is written in Latin, French, and an unknown cipher, which Debosnys says is used in Europe quite extensively." These six cryptograms came to light in 1957 -- none has been solved:

Listener mail:

August Skalweit, Die Deutsche Kriegsernährungswirtschaft, 1927.

Emma Beckett, "Food Fraud Affects Many Supermarket Staples, So How Do You Choose the Good Stuff?" ABC, Sept. 3, 2018.

Stephen Strauss, "Clara M. Davis and the Wisdom of Letting Children Choose Their Own Diets," Canadian Medical Association Journal 175:10 (Nov. 7, 2006), 1199–1201.

Benjamin Scheindlin, "'Take One More Bite for Me': Clara Davis and the Feeding of Young Children," Gastronomica 5:1 (Winter 2005), 65-69.

Clara M. Davis, "Results of the Self-Selection of Diets by Young Children," Canadian Medical Association Journal 41:3 (September 1939), 257.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was inspired by an item on the podcast No Such Thing as a Fish. Here are two corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support.

You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Oct 22, 2018
220-The Old Hero of Gettysburg
31:45

In 1863, on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, a 69-year-old shoemaker took down his ancient musket and set out to shoot some rebels. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow John Burns' adventures in that historic battle, which made him famous across the nation and won the praise of Abraham Lincoln.

We'll also survey some wallabies and puzzle over some underlined 7s.

Intro:

Alberta has no rats.

In a 1963 travel book, Ian Fleming gives James Bond's recipe for scrambled eggs.

Sources for our feature on John Burns:

Timothy H. Smith, John Burns, 2000.

Harry W. Pfanz, Gettysburg: The First Day, 2011.

Tom Huntington, "Out to Shoot Some 'Damned Rebels,'" America's Civil War 21:3 (July 2008), 46-49.

Eric J. Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi, "Why JEB Stuart Was Too Late," Civil War Times 46:1 (February 2007), 30-37.

Robert L. Bloom, "'We Never Expected a Battle': The Civilians at Gettysburg, 1863," Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 55:4 (October 1988), 161-200.

Robert Fortenbaugh, "Lincoln as Gettysburg Saw Him," Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 14:1 (January 1947), 1-12.

George T. Ness Jr., "Wisconsin at West Point: Her Graduates Through the Civil War Period," Wisconsin Magazine of History 25:2 (December 1941), 210-216.

James W. Wensyel, "Tales of a Gettysburg Guide," American Heritage 45:2 (April 1994), 104.

"Letters," Civil War Times 56:4 (August 2017), 6.

Luther William Minnigh, Gettysburg: What They Did There, 1912.

Samuel Penniman Bates, The Battle of Gettysburg, 1875.

"The Field of Gettysburg," Ocala [Fla.] Evening Star, Dec. 6, 1920.

"The Field of Gettysburg," Caldwell [Idaho] Tribune, Dec. 26, 1908.

"John Burns of Gettysburg," [Washington D.C.] National Tribune, Jan. 19, 1899, 10.

"John Burns of Gettysburg," National Tribune, Nov. 10, 1898, 8.

"Brave John Burns," Gettysburg Compiler, Sept. 28, 1897.

"John Burns of Gettysburg," Helena [Mont.] Independent, Oct. 6, 1890, 6.

"John Burns, of Gettysburg," New York Times, Feb. 11, 1872.

"John Burns of Gettysburg," New York Times, July 27, 1871.

John T. Trowbridge, "The Field of Gettysburg," Atlantic Monthly 16:97 (November 1865), 616-624.

A writer to the Civil War Times asks whether the man seated farthest left at this Gettysburg field hospital might be Burns. "Burns favored that style of top hat, and they have the same jug ears and long noses. They also seem to wear similar scowls, but nowadays so do I, at least when I can't get enough Advil." More here.

Listener mail:

Filey Bird Garden & Animal Park, Facebook, Sept. 25, 2018.

"Escaped Filey Animal Park Wallaby Found Dead on Roadside," BBC News, Sept. 25, 2018.

Thomas Manch and Matt Stewart, "Mystery of Wellington's Dead Wallaby Remains, Despite Thermal Imaging Tech," Stuff, May 22, 2018.

Thomas Mead, "Hunters Take Out Pests in Annual South Canterbury Wallaby Hunt," NewsHub, March 17, 2018.

A. David M. Latham, M. Cecilia Latham, and Bruce Warburton, "What Is Happening With Wallabies in Mainland New Zealand?" Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research (accessed Oct. 3, 2018).

"Waimate's Wallabies," Waimate.org (accessed Oct. 3, 2018).

John Wilson, "South Canterbury Places - Waimate," Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand (accessed Oct. 3, 2018).

Ryan Dunlop, "Cost of Wallabies in South Island Could Reach $67m a Year by 2027," Stuff, Dec. 22, 2017.

Rachel E. Gross, "New Zealand's War on 30 Million Possums," Atlantic, March 1, 2013.

Mark Edwards, "Isle of Man Wallaby-Related Police Call-Outs Revealed," BBC News, Sept. 7, 2018.

Francesca Marshall, "Calls for Wallaby Warning Signs to be Implemented on the Isle of Man to Tackle Growing Numbers," Telegraph, Sept. 7, 2018.

"Orphaned Isle of Man Wallaby 'Getting Stronger,'" BBC News, May 8, 2018.

"Wild Wallabies Running Amok on Isle of Man," Times, Sept. 8, 2018.

Camila Domonoske, "Mystery Kangaroo Is at Large in Austria, Confusing Everybody," National Public Radio, Sept. 4, 2018.

"No Kangaroos in Austria? At Least One Is Lost in the Snow," Sydney Morning Herald, Jan. 29, 2015.

"Runaway Kangaroo Seen in Upper Austria," The Local, Aug. 10, 2015.

"Escaped Kangaroo on the Run in Austria," The Local, July 7, 2016.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener John Spray, who sent this corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support.

You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Oct 08, 2018
219-The Greenbrier Ghost
35:04

In 1897, shortly after Zona Shue was found dead in her West Virginia home, her mother went to the county prosecutor with a bizarre story. She said that her daughter had been murdered -- and that her ghost had revealed the killer's identity. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Greenbrier Ghost, one of the strangest courtroom dramas of the 19th century.

We'll also consider whether cats are controlling us and puzzle over a delightful oblivion.

Intro:

Anagrams, a palindrome, and a letter bank regarding American presidents.

A crossword without clues, by Lee Sallows.

Mary Jane Heaster, Zona's mother.

Sources for our feature on the Greenbrier Ghost:

Katie Letcher Lyle, The Man Who Wanted Seven Wives, 1986.

"The Greenbrier Ghost," West Virginia Division of Culture and History (accessed Sept. 22, 2018).

David Jenkins, "Common Law, Mountain Music, and the Construction of Community Identity," Social & Legal Studies 19:3 (September 2010), 351-369.

Joel Ebert, "Trials in High Profile," Charleston [W.V.] Sunday Gazette-Mail, Oct. 11, 2015, A.1.

Joel Ebert, "Blankenship's Just One of Many High-Profile Trials in WV History," TCA Regional News, Oct. 11, 2015.

Sandi Toksvig, "Ghosts Obviously Have Their Downsides, But at Least They Make Life Interesting," Sunday Telegraph, Jan. 23, 2011, 5.

Mike Conley, "Ghost Brings Murderer to Justice," Marion [N.C.] McDowell News, Aug. 27, 2009.

Allison Barker, "Courthouse Old Enough to Have Ghost in Its History," Charleston Sunday Gazette-Mail, March 9, 2003, 2B.

Chris Stirewalt, "A Haunting Halloween," Charleston Daily Mail, Oct. 31, 2002, 1C.

Michelle Saxton, "West Virginia's Hills Are Home to Ghostly Tales," Charleston Gazette, Oct. 30, 2000, 7A.

Marina Hendricks, "Retelling a Greenbrier Ghost Tale," Charleston Sunday Gazette-Mail, Oct. 31. 1999, 1E.

"Trial of Trout Shue," The Bar 11:2 (February 1904).

"Foul Play Suspected," Greenbrier Independent, Feb. 25, 1897.

"Foul Play Suspected," Staunton [Va.] Spectator and Vindicator, March 4, 1897.

Garry Rodgers, "How a Ghost's Evidence Convicted a Murderer," Huffington Post, Feb. 19, 2017.

Listener mail:

Nic Fleming, "Hungry Cats Trick Owners With Baby Cry Mimicry," New Scientist, July 13, 2009 [contains audio files of urgent and non-urgent purrs].

Lynne Peeples, "Manipulative Meow: Cats Learn to Vocalize a Particular Sound to Train Their Human Companions," Scientific American, July 13, 2009.

Karen McComb et al., "The Cry Embedded Within the Purr," Cell 19:13 (July 14, 2009), R507-R508.

Mayo Clinic, "Toxoplasmosis," Oct. 3, 2017.

Paul R. Torgerson and Pierpaolo Mastroiacovo, "The Global Burden of Congenital Toxoplasmosis: A Systematic Review," Bulletin of the World Health Organization 91 (2013), 501-508.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Parasites - Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma Infection)" (accessed Sept. 26, 2018).

Ed Yong, "Mind-Bending Parasite Permanently Quells Cat Fear in Mice," National Geographic, April 26, 2013.

M. Berdoy et al., "Fatal Attraction in Rats Infected With Toxoplasma gondii," Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 267:1452 (2000), 1591-1594.

Karen Sugden et al., "Is Toxoplasma Gondii Infection Related to Brain and Behavior Impairments in Humans? Evidence From a Population-Representative Birth Cohort," PLoS One 11:2 (2016), e0148435.

Samuel Osborne, "Mind-Altering Parasite Spread by Cats Could Give Humans More Courage and Overcome 'Fear of Failure', Research Suggests," Independent, July 25, 2018.

"The Myth of 'Mind-Altering Parasite' Toxoplasma Gondii?" Discover, Feb. 20, 2016.

Jaroslav Flegr, "Effects of Toxoplasma on Human Behavior," Schizophrenia Bulletin 33:3 (2007), 757-760.

B.D. Pearce et al., "The Relationship Between Toxoplasma gondii Infection and Mood Disorders in the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey," Biological Psychiatry 72:4 (2012), 290-295.

Lucy Jones, "Ten Sinister Parasites That Control Their Hosts' Minds," BBC Earth, March 16, 2015.

F. Thomas et al., "Biochemical and Histological Changes in the Brain of the Cricket Nemobius sylvestris Infected by the Manipulative Parasite Paragordius tricuspidatus (Nematomorpha)," International Journal for Parasitology 33:4 (2003), 435-443.

Sandra B. Andersen et al., "The Life of a Dead Ant: The Expression of an Adaptive Extended Phenotype," American Naturalist 174:3 (2009), 424-433.

Chris Reiber, "Change in Human Social Behavior in Response to a Common Vaccine," Annals of Epidemiology 20:10 (2010), 729-733.

F. Solmi, et al., "Curiosity Killed the Cat: No Evidence of an Association Between Cat Ownership and Psychotic Symptoms at Ages 13 and 18 Years in a UK General Population Cohort," Psychological Medicine 47:9 (2017), 1659-1667.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Ben Snitkoff.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Oct 01, 2018
218-Lost in the Amazon
32:59

In 1769, a Peruvian noblewoman set out with 41 companions to join her husband in French Guiana. But a series of terrible misfortunes left her alone in the Amazon jungle. In this week's episode we'll follow Isabel Godin des Odonais on her harrowing adventure in the rain forest.

We'll also learn where in the world "prices slippery traps" is and puzzle over an airport's ingenuity.

Intro:

In 1949 neurophysiologist Grey Walter built electronic "tortoises" with primitive nervous systems.

In 1952 G.V. Carey added an index to his manual of indexing.

Sources for our feature on Isabel Godin des Odonais:

Anthony Smith, The Lost Lady of the Amazon, 2003.

Robert Whitaker, The Mapmaker's Wife, 2004.

Jean Godin, "Voyage of Madame Godin Along the River of the Amazons, in the Year 1770," in Charlotte-Adélaïde Dard et al., Perils and Captivity, 1827.

Larrie D. Ferreiro, Measure of the Earth, 2011.

Edward Julius Goodman, The Explorers of South America, 1992.

Londa L. Schiebinger, Plants and Empire, 2009.

J. Donald Fernie, "Marginalia: The Shape of the Earth, Part II," American Scientist 79:5 (September/October 1991), 393-395.

Donald D. Brand, "A Brief History of Anthropology in Brazil," New Mexico Anthropologist 5:4 (October-December 1941), 99-150.

David Taylor, "An Adventure of Historic Measures," Americas 50:6 (November/December 1998), 14-21.

James Grant Wilson and John Fiske, Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1898.

Edwin McDowell, "The Middle of the World," New York Times, Nov. 25, 1990.

"First Woman Over Andes," New York Times, Nov. 5, 1922.

Henri Froidevaux, "Documents Inédits sur Godin des Odonais et sur Son Séjour a la Guyane," Journal de la Société des Américanistes de Paris I, 1896.

"An Account of the Singular Misfortunes of Madame Godin, in a Voyage Which She Made From the Province of Quito to Cayenne, by the River of the Amazons," New Wonderful Magazine and Marvellous Chronicle 4:37 (July 1794), 309-313.

Listener mail:

Robert Plummer, "Giving Everyone in the World an Address," BBC News, April 30, 2015.

"Ivory Coast Post Office Adopts Three-Word System," BBC News, Dec. 9, 2016.

Plus Codes.

Wikipedia, "Open Location Code" (accessed Sept. 13, 2018).

what3words.

Wikipedia, "What3words" (accessed Sept. 13, 2018).

Belinda Lanks, "This App Gives Even the Most Remote Spots on the Planet an Address," Magenta, Oct. 11, 2016.

Joon Ian Wong, "Mongolia Is Changing All Its Addresses to Three-Word Phrases," Quartz, June 13, 2016.

Jacopo Prisco, "Ivory Coast Street Addresses Are Now Made of Three Words," CNN, Sept. 4, 2017.

what2numbers.

what3emojis.

what3goshdarnits.

what3ducks.

what3[redacted] (warning: many, many expletives).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Josva Dammann Kvilstad, who sent this corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Sep 24, 2018
217-The Bone Wars
34:30

The end of the Civil War opened a new era of fossil hunting in the American West -- and a bitter feud between two rival paleontologists, who spent 20 years sabotaging one another in a constant struggle for supremacy. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Bone Wars, the greatest scientific feud of the 19th century.

We'll also sympathize with Scunthorpe and puzzle over why a driver can't drive.

Intro:

Nepal's constitution contains instructions for drawing its flag.

The tombstone of Constanze Mozart's second husband calls him "the husband of Mozart's widow."

Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope.

Sources for our feature on the Bone Wars:

David Rains Wallace, The Bonehunters' Revenge, 1999.

Mark Jaffe, The Gilded Dinosaur, 2000.

Elizabeth Noble Shor, The Fossil Feud, 1974.

Hal Hellman, Great Feuds in Science, 1998.

Tom Huntington, "The Great Feud," American History 33:3 (August 1998), 14.

Richard A. Kissel, "The Sauropod Chronicles," Natural History 116:3 (April 2007), 34-38.

Keith Stewart Thomson, "Marginalia: Dinosaurs as a Cultural Phenomenon," American Scientist 93:3 (May-June 2005), 212-214.

Genevieve Rajewski, "Where Dinosaurs Roamed," Smithsonian 39:2 (May 2008), 20-24.

James Penick Jr., "Professor Cope vs. Professor Marsh," American Heritage 22:5 (August 1971).

Alfred S. Romer, "Cope versus Marsh," Systematic Zoology 13:4 (December 1964), 201-207.

Renee Clary, James Wandersee, and Amy Carpinelli, "The Great Dinosaur Feud: Science Against All Odds," Science Scope 32:2 (October 2008), 34-40.

Susan West, "Dinosaur Head Hunt," Science News 116:18 (Nov. 3, 1979), 314-315.

P.D. Brinkman, "Edward Drinker Cope's Final Feud," Archives of Natural History 43:2 (October 2016), 305-320.

Eric J. Hilton, Joseph C. Mitchell and David G. Smith, "Edward Drinker Cope (1840–1897): Naturalist, Namesake, Icon," Copeia 2014:4 (December 2014), 747-761.

John Koster, "Good to the Old Bones: Dreaming of Dinosaurs, Digging for Dollars," Wild West 25:2 (August 2012), 26-27.

Daniel Engber, "Bone Thugs-N-Disharmony," Slate, Aug. 7, 2013.

Walter H. Wheeler, "The Uintatheres and the Cope-Marsh War," Science, New Series 131:3408 (April 22, 1960), 1171-1176.

Lukas Rieppel, "Prospecting for Dinosaurs on the Mining Frontier: The Value of Information in America's Gilded Age," Social Studies of Science 45:2 (2015), 161-186.

Michael J. Benton, "Naming Dinosaur Species: The Performance of Prolific Authors," Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30:5 (2010), 1478-1485.

Cary Woodruff and John R. Foster, "The Fragile Legacy of Amphicoelias fragillimus (Dinosauria: Sauropoda; Morrison Formation-Latest Jurassic)," PeerJ PrePrints 3 (2014), e838v1.

Paul Semonin, "Empire and Extinction: The Dinosaur as a Metaphor for Dominance in Prehistoric Nature," Leonardo 30:3 (1997), 171-182.

Jennie Erin Smith, "When Fossil-Finding Was a Contact Sport," Wall Street Journal Asia, June 10, 2016, A.11.

Adam Lusher, "The Brontosaurus Is Back After 150 Million Years... At Least in Name," Independent, April 8, 2015, 10.

Will Bagley, "Rivals Fought Tooth and Nail Over Dinosaurs," Salt Lake Tribune, March 25, 2001, B1.

Clive Coy, "Skeletons in the Closet," Ontario National Post, Jan. 22, 2000, 10.

Rose DeWolf, "Philly Is Facile With Fossils," Philadelphia Daily News, March 27, 1998, D.6.

Mark Jaffe, "Phila. and Fossils Go Way Back," Philadelphia Inquirer, March 22, 1998, 2.

Malcolm W. Browne, "Dinosaurs Still Star in Many Human Dramas and Dreams," New York Times, Oct. 14, 1997.

John Noble Wilford, "Horses, Mollusks and the Evolution of Bigness," New York Times, Jan. 21, 1997.

Jerry E. Bishop, "Bones of Contention: Should Dr. Cope's Be The Human Model?" Wall Street Journal, Nov. 1, 1994, A1.

"Dinosaur Book Has Museum Aide Losing His Head," Baltimore Sun, Oct. 17, 1994, 6A.

"The Bricks of Scholarship," New York Times, Jan. 21, 1988.

Dick Pothier, "Fossil Factions: Dinosaur Exhibit Points Out a Battle in Science," Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 9, 1986, B.14.

Rose DeWolf, "Dinosaurs: Bone in the USA," Philadelphia Daily News, Jan. 24, 1986, 52.

William Harper Davis, "Cope, a Master Pioneer of American Paleontology," New York Times, July 5, 1931.

George Gaylord Simpson, "Mammals Were Humble When Dinosaurs Roved," New York Times, Oct. 18, 1925.

"A Prehistoric Monster," Hartford Republican, Sept. 1, 1905.

"The Scientists' New President," Topeka State Journal, Oct. 9, 1895.

Listener mail:

David Mack, "This Woman With a 'Rude' Last Name Started the Best Thread on Twitter," BuzzFeed News, Aug. 29, 2018.

Natalie Weiner, Twitter, Sept. 6, 2018.

Wikipedia, "Scunthorpe Problem" (accessed Sept. 6, 2018).

Declan McCullagh, "Google's Chastity Belt Too Tight," CNET, April 23, 2004.

Daniel Oberhaus, "Life on the Internet Is Hard When Your Last Name is 'Butts,'" Motherboard, Aug. 29, 2018.

Matthew Moore, "The Clbuttic Mistake: When Obscenity Filters Go Wrong," Telegraph, Sept. 2, 2008.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener David Malki.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Sep 17, 2018
216-The Tromelin Island Castaways
32:50

In 1761 a French schooner was shipwrecked in the Indian Ocean, leaving more than 200 people stranded on a tiny island. The crew departed in a makeshift boat, leaving 60 Malagasy slaves to fend for themselves and wait for rescue. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Tromelin Island castaways, which one observer calls "arguably the most extraordinary story of survival ever documented."

We'll also admire some hardworking cats and puzzle over a racer's death.

Intro:

In 1830 architect Thomas Willson proposed building an enormous pyramid to house London's dead.

In 1959 a Norwegian insulation manufacturer undertook to transport a three-ton block of ice to the equator without refrigeration.

Sources for our feature on the Tromelin Island castaways:

Samir S. Patel, "Castaways," Archaeology, Sept. 15, 2014.

"Lèse humanité," Economist, Dec. 16, 2015.

Max Guérout, "Esclaves oubliés," La Revue Maritime 477 (December 2006).

John Lichfield, "Shipwrecked and Abandoned: The Story of the Slave Crusoes," Independent, Feb. 5, 2007.

James Russell, "The Recovery of Tromelin Island," National Geographic, April 11, 2016.

V. Laroulandie and C. Lefèvre, "The Use of Avian Resources by the Forgotten Slaves of Tromelin Island (Indian Ocean)," International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 24:3 (2014), 407-416.

Matthieu Le Corre, et al. "Seabird Recovery and Vegetation Dynamics After Norway Rat Eradication at Tromelin Island, Western Indian Ocean," Biological Conservation 185 (2015), 85-94.

Nick Marriner et al., "A Geomorphological Reconnaissance of Tromelin Island, Indian Ocean," Journal of Coastal Research 28:6 (November 2012), 1606-1616.

Urko Apaolaza Ávila, "Basques in the Caribbean Slave Trade (Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries)," in William A. Douglass, ed., Basques in Cuba, 2016.

Jane Webster, "Slave Ships and Maritime Archaeology: An Overview," International Journal of Historical Archaeology 12:1 (March 2008), 6–19.

Annabelle Georgen, "Abandonnés sur une île déserte: la tragédie des esclaves oubliés de Tromelin," Slate, Feb. 22, 2017.

Peter Mitchell and Paul Lane, The Oxford Handbook of African Archaeology, 2013.

Carl Thompson, Shipwreck in Art and Literature: Images and Interpretations from Antiquity to the Present Day, 2014.

Nelly Schmidt, "Slavery and Its Abolition, French Colonies, Research and Transmission of Knowledge," UNESCO Slave Route Project.

Constance Holden, "Random Samples," Science, New Series 315:5812 (Feb. 2, 2007), 579.

Jasmina Sopova, "UNESCO Launches Forgotten Slaves Programme," UNESCO, April 23, 2004.

"Archaeological Science," Health & Medicine Week, May 17, 2010, 1593.

Sylviane Diouf, "Survivors: Sand Island," New York Public Library, March 7, 2012.

H.A. Moriarty, Islands in the Southern Indian Ocean, Westward of Longitude 80° East, Including Madagascar, 1904.

Alexander G. Findlay, A Directory for the Navigation of the Indian Ocean, 1866.

A. Constable, Shipwrecks and Disasters at Sea, 1812.

Lawrence G. Green, "Mystery Isles of the East," New York Times, June 21, 1931.

Bernie McClenny, "Tromelin Island," QST 98:9 (September 2014), 91-92.

"Foreign Intelligence," [London] General Evening Post, Aug. 21, 1777.

"Extract of a Letter From Amsterdam, Aug. 7," London Chronicle, Aug. 22, 1777.

Listener mail:

"Chief Mouser Palmerston Develops a Taste for Duck," Times, July 24, 2018.

"Library Cat Outlasts Councilman That Wanted Him Gone," CBS News, Dec. 16, 2016.

Bud Kennedy, "Council Critic Takes Yet Another Swipe at Browser the Library Cat," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dec. 10, 2016.

Ricki Harris, "Beloved Cat Will Keep His Job at the Local Library After International Backlash," ABC News, July 5, 2016.

Ricki Harris, "Beloved Cat Fired From His Job at a Local Public Library," ABC News, June 28, 2016.

Wikipedia, "Mike (cat)" (accessed Sept. 4, 2018).

E.A. Wallis Budge, "Mike", the Cat Who Assisted in Keeping the Main Gate of the British Museum From February 1909 to January 1929, 1929.

R.B. Shaberman, Mike, the British Museum Cat, 1909-1929: A Jubilee Reminiscence, 1979.

Dog Days of Summer Family Festival, Smithsonian National Postal Museum (accessed Sept. 6, 2018).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Bryant Pocock, who sent these corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Sep 10, 2018
215-The Lieutenant Nun
31:58

In 1607, a 15-year-old girl fled her convent in the Basque country, dressed herself as a man, and set out on a series of unlikely adventures across Europe. In time she would distinguish herself fighting as a soldier in Spain's wars of conquest in the New World. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of Catalina de Erauso, the lieutenant nun of Renaissance Spain.

We'll also hunt for some wallabies and puzzle over a quiet cat.

Intro:

In 1856 the Saturday Review asked: Why do ghosts wear clothes?

Because of the peculiarities of bee reproduction, the population of each generation is a Fibonacci number.

Sources for our feature on Catalina de Erauso:

Joaquín María de Ferrer, The Autobiography of doña Catalina de Erauso, 1918 (translated by Dan Harvey Pedrick).

Heidi Zogbaum, Catalina de Erauso: The Lieutenant Nun and the Conquest of the New World, 2015.

Sonia Pérez-Villanueva, The Life of Catalina de Erauso, the Lieutenant Nun: An Early Modern Autobiography, 2014.

Eva Mendieta, In Search of Catalina de Erauso: The National and Sexual Identity of the Lieutenant Nun, 2009.

Sherry Velasco, The Lieutenant Nun: Transgenderism, Lesbian Desire, and Catalina de Erauso, 2000.

Robin Cross and Rosalind Miles, Warrior Women: 3000 Years of Courage and Heroism, 2011.

Christel Mouchard, Women Travelers: A Century of Trailblazing Adventures 1850-1950, 2007.

Faith S. Harden, "Military Labour and Martial Honour in the Vida de la Monja Alférez, Catalina de Erauso," Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 94:2 (2017), 147-162.

Madera Gabriela Allan, "'Un Hombre Sin Barbas': The Transgender Protagonist of La Monja Alférez (1626)," Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies 17:2 (June 2016), 119-131.

Sonia Pérez Villanueva, "Vida y sucesos de la Monja Alférez: Spanish Dictatorship, Basque Identity, and the Political Tug-of-War Over a Popular Heroine," Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 83:4 (2006), 337-347.

Matthew Goldmark, "Reading Habits: Catalina de Erauso and the Subjects of Early Modern Spanish Gender and Sexuality," Colonial Latin American Review 24:2 (June 2015), 215-235.

Mary Elizabeth Perry, "The Manly Woman: A Historical Case Study," American Behavioral Scientist 31:1 (September/October 1987), 86.

Joy Parks, "Passing Into Legend," The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide 8:6 (Dec. 31, 2001), 41.

Benito Quintana, "The Life of Catalina de Erauso, the Lieutenant Nun: An Early Modern Autobiography," Biography 38:3 (2015).

Christine Hamelin, "Outrageous Adventurer Risked Her Safety for Freedom," Kingston Whig, May 11, 2002, 6.

"The Daring, Dueling 'Lieutenant Nun,'" El Pais, Jan. 31, 2009, 8.

Angeline Goreau, "Cross-Dressing for Success," New York Times, March 17, 1996.

"Catalina de Erauso's Story; La Nonne Alferez," New York Times, April 21, 1894.

Listener mail:

"Wallaby on Loose After Filey Park Escape," BBC News, Aug. 21, 2018.

"Wallaby Seen Near Wombourne Sainsbury's," BBC News, Aug. 16, 2018.

Filey Bird Garden & Animal Park, Facebook, Aug. 27, 2018.

"Wallaby Update," Filey Bird Garden & Animal Park, Facebook, Aug. 29, 2018.

"Zoo Hunts for 'Friendly' Missing Wallaby Who Was Spotted Sunbathing in Wolverhampton," Sky News, Aug. 16, 2018.

WILD Zoological Park, Facebook, Aug. 16, 2018.

WILD Zoological Park, Facebook, Aug. 25, 2018.

WILD Zoological Park, Facebook, Aug. 29, 2018.

Makenzie O'Keefe, "Bear Gets Stuck Inside Truck, Destroys Interior," 4CBS Denver, July 27, 2018.

Rob Griffiths, "Life Is Different in Mammoth Lakes," Twitter, Aug. 12, 2018.

Ben Hooper, "Bear Visits Tennessee Hotel, Carries Bag of French Toast," UPI, March 22, 2018.

Matt Lakin, "Mom's Close Call With Gatlinburg Bear Makes for Viral Video," Knox News, March 22, 2018.

"A Bear Had a Scary Good Time After Wandering Into the Shining Hotel in Colorado," Associated Press, Aug. 24, 2018.

Amanda Maile, "Black Bear Wanders Around Colorado Hotel Lobby," ABC News, Aug. 24, 2018.

Ryan White, "Parks Canada Officials Endorse the Human Voice and Bear Spray Over Bear Bangers and Bells," CTV News Calgary, June 9, 2017.

Karin Brulliard, "Bear Breaks Into House, Plays the Piano but Not Very Well," Washington Post, June 8, 2017.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listeners Kelly and Cherie Bruce (and Juno). Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Sep 03, 2018
214-The Poison Squad
32:33

In 1902, chemist Harvey Wiley launched a unique experiment to test the safety of food additives. He recruited a group of young men and fed them meals laced with chemicals to see what the effects might be. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Wiley's "poison squad" and his lifelong crusade for food safety.

We'll also follow some garden paths and puzzle over some unwelcome weight-loss news.

Intro:

In 1887, an inadvertent dot in a telegram cost wool dealer Frank Primrose $20,000.

For 25 years, two Minnesota brothers-in-law exchanged a weaponized pair of moleskin pants.

Harvey Washington Wiley's poison squad dined in formal clothing and wrote their own inspirational slogan. Sources for our feature:

Bernard A. Weisberger, "Doctor Wiley and His Poison Squad," American Heritage 47:1 (February/March 1996).

Oscar E. Anderson Jr., The Health of a Nation: Harvey W. Wiley and the Fight for Pure Food, 1958.

Paul M. Wax, "Elixirs, Diluents, and the Passage of the 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act," Annals of Internal Medicine 122:6 (March 15, 1995), 456-461.

James Harvey Young, "Food and Drug Regulation Under the USDA, 1906-1940," Agricultural History 64:2 (Spring 1990), 134-142.

Cornelius C. Regier, "The Struggle for Federal Food and Drugs Legislation," Law and Contemporary Problems 1:1 (December 1933), 3-15.

Donna J. Wood, "The Strategic Use of Public Policy: Business Support for the 1906 Food and Drug Act," Business History Review 59:3 (Autumn 1985), 403-432.

E. Pendleton Herring, "The Balance of Social Forces in the Administration of the Pure Food and Drug Act," Social Forces 13:3 (March 1935), 358-366.

Carol Lewis and Suzanne White Junod, "The 'Poison Squad' and the Advent of Food and Drug Regulation," FDA Consumer 36:6 (November-December 2002), 12-15.

Mike Oppenheim, "Food Fight," American History 53:4 (October 2018), 68.

Bette Hileman, "'Poison Squads' Tested Chemical Preservatives," Chemical & Engineering News 84:38 (Sept. 18, 2006).

Wallace F. Janssen, "The Story of the Laws Behind the Labels," FDA Consumer 15:5 (June 1981), 32-45.

G.R. List, "Giants From the Past: Harvey W. Wiley (1844-1930)," Inform 16:2 (February 2005), 111-112.

Bruce Watson, "The Poison Squad: An Incredible History," Esquire, June 27, 2013.

Deborah Blum, "Bring Back the Poison Squad," Slate, March 2, 2011.

Lance Gay, "A Century Ago, the Federal Government Launched One of Its Most Unusual and Controversial Investigations," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dec. 30, 2002, A-8.

"Harvey W. Wiley: Pioneer Consumer Activist," FDA Consumer 40:1, (January-February 2006), 34-35.

"Harvey Washington Wiley," Science History Institute, Jan. 10, 2018.

Karen Olsson, "We Must Eat, Drink and (Still) Be Wary," Washington Post, Sept. 6, 1998, C01.

O.K. Davis, "The Case of Dr. Wiley," Hampton Columbian Magazine 27:4 (October 1911), 469-481.

A.A. Langdon, "Food Expert Defends Borax," What-to-Eat 22:3 (March 1907), 91-92.

"To Investigate Wiley's Food Squad Methods," National Provisioner 36:2 (Jan. 12, 1907), 1.

"Letter Box," Pharmaceutical Era 37:22 (May 30, 1907), 514.

"The Case of Dr. Wiley," American Food Journal 4:2, Feb. 15, 1909, 16.

"Food Law's Anniversary," New York Times, June 30, 1908.

"Wiley's Foes Think They've Beaten Him," New York Times, Dec. 29, 1908.

H.H. Langdon, "Why Wiley Is Criticised; His Radical Views Said to Justify Tests by the National Commission," New York Times, April 7, 1907.

"Benzoate Indorsed; Wiley Loses Fight," New York Times, Aug. 27, 1909.

"Health Rather Than Money," New York Times, Aug. 21, 1910.

"Germans Verified Wiley Poison Tests," New York Times, Aug. 19, 1911.

"Forbidden Fruit," New York Times, Oct. 11, 1911.

"Pure Food in One State Is Poison in Another," New York Times, Jan. 25, 1914.

"Dr. H.W. Wiley Dies, Pure-Food Expert," New York Times, July 1, 1930.

Listener mail:

Listener Rob Emich discovered Spring-Heeled Jack London-Style Porter in Cape Cod last month (see Episode 34).

Brittany Hope Flamik, "Australia's Endangered Quolls Get Genetic Boost From Scientists," New York Times, July 26, 2018.

April Reese, "Ecologists Try to Speed Up Evolution to Save Australian Marsupial From Toxic Toads," Nature, July 23, 2018.

Jesse Thompson and Liz Trevaskis, "Questions Over Quarantined Astell Island Quolls Who Lost Their Fear of Predators," ABC Radio Darwin, Aug. 9, 2018.

Wikipedia, "Garden-Path Sentence" (accessed Aug. 17, 2018).

"Garden Path Sentences," Fun With Words (accessed Aug. 17, 2018).

BBC Sound Effects.

Dave Lawrence, "RNN of BBC Sound Effects," Aardvark Zythum, Aug. 2, 2018.

Dave Lawrence, "More Sound Effects," Aardvark Zythum, Aug. 3, 2018.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener David Palmer.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Aug 27, 2018
213-Grover Cleveland's Secret Surgery
32:00

In 1893, Grover Cleveland discovered a cancerous tumor on the roof of his mouth. It was feared that public knowledge of the president's illness might set off a financial panic, so Cleveland suggested a daring plan: a secret surgery aboard a moving yacht. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the president's gamble -- and the courageous reporter who threatened to expose it.

We'll also audit some wallabies and puzzle over some welcome neo-Nazis.

Intro:

Robert Louis Stevenson inadvertently borrowed much of Treasure Island from Washington Irving.

When Graeme Gibson donated his parrot to the Toronto Zoo, it suddenly called after him.

Sources for our feature on Grover Cleveland's secret surgery:

Matthew Algeo, The President Is a Sick Man: Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survives a Secret Surgery at Sea and Vilifies the Courageous Newspaperman Who Dared Expose the Truth, 2011.

William Williams Keen, The Surgical Operations on President Cleveland in 1893, 1917.

Shahid R. Aziz, "The Oral Surgical Operations of Grover Cleveland: A Presidential Cover-Up," Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 53:9 (1995), 1088-1090.

W.O. Fenn et al., "Dr. Joseph Bryant's Role in President Grover Cleveland's Secret Anesthesia and Surgery," Anesthesiology 119:4 (October 2013), 889.

"The Secret Operation on President Cleveland," British Medical Journal 1:3568 (May 25, 1929), 965.

Ronald H. Spiro, "Verrucous Carcinoma, Then and Now," American Journal of Surgery 176:5 (1998), 393-397.

Andrew Renehan and J.C. Lowry, "The Oral Tumours of Two American Presidents: What If They Were Alive Today?", Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 88:7 (1995), 377.

Philip H. Cooper, "President Cleveland's Palatal Tumor," Archives of Dermatology 122:7 (1986), 747-748.

Richard L. Rovit and William T. Couldwell, "A Man for All Seasons: WW Keen," Neurosurgery 50:1 (2002), 181-190.

"Without Prejudice," British Medical Journal 2:5467 (Oct. 16, 1965), 938.

John J. Brooks and Horatio T. Enterline, "The Final Diagnosis of President Cleveland's Lesion," JAMA 244:24 (1980), 2729-2729.

William Maloney, "Surreptitious Surgery on Long Island Sound," New York State Dental Journal 76:1 (January 2010), 42-45.

Robert S. Robins and Henry Rothschild, "Ethical Dilemmas of the President's Physician," Politics and the Life Sciences 7:1, Medicine and Political Behavior (August 1988), 3-11.

Richard Norton Smith, "'The President Is Fine' and Other Historical Lies," Columbia Journalism Review 40:3 (September/October 2001), 30-32.

"A Yacht, A Mustache: How A President Hid His Tumor," Morning Edition, National Public Radio, July 6, 2011.

"Grover Cleveland - Secret Surgery," University of Arizona Health Sciences Library, July 20, 2018.

Arlene Shaner, "The Secret Surgeries of Grover Cleveland," New York Academy of Medicine, Feb. 27, 2014.

Paul Maloney, "Grover Cleveland's Secret Surgery," Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association (accessed July 23, 2018).

"Dr. W.W. Keen Dies; Famous Surgeon," New York Times, June 8, 1932.

Abigail Trafford, "Presidential Illness: Are Coverups Still Possible?", Montreal Gazette, Jan. 8, 1987, A1.

Martin D. Tullai, "Health Secret Was Once Possible for U.S. President," Salt Lake Tribune, March 14, 1994, A6.

Allan B. Schwartz, "Medical Mystery: Grover Cleveland’s Secret Operation," Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 24, 2016.

Dan Gunderman, "The Secretive, Disfiguring Medical Battle Waged by President Grover Cleveland as the Nation Fell Into a Deep Depression," New York Daily News, Dec. 25, 2016.

David Steinberg, "Should the President Undergo Independent Medical Evaluations?", Boston Globe, May 27, 2018, A.4.

Listener mail:

"Wallabies in Onchan," Onchan and Garff Area Matters, Facebook, July 12, 2018.

Samantha Harrelson, "Wandering Kangaroo Causes Rollover Crash Near Dodson in Northern Montana," KTVQ, June 21, 2018.

"Two Injured in Montana After Swerving to Avoid a Kangaroo or Wallaby," KULR 8, June 21, 2018.

Rob Rogers, "Startled Driver Rolls Car to Avoid 'Kangaroo' in Northern Montana," Billings Gazette, June 21, 2018.

"Prohibited Species," Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (accessed Aug. 16, 2018).

"Animals Go Wild! The Wallabies of Kalihi Valley," Hawaii News Now (accessed Aug. 16, 2018).

"Native Animals," New Zealand Department of Conservation (accessed Aug. 16, 2018).

"Kawau Island Wallabies," New Zealand Department of Conservation (accessed Aug. 16, 2018).

Wikipedia, "Kawau Island: History" (accessed Aug. 12, 2018).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Sharon. Here are three corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Aug 20, 2018
212-The Lost Treasure of Cocos Island
32:11

Cocos Island, in the eastern Pacific, was rumored to hold buried treasure worth millions of dollars, but centuries of treasure seekers had failed to find it. That didn't deter August Gissler, who arrived in 1889 with a borrowed map and an iron determination. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow Gissler's obsessive hunt for the Treasure of Lima.

We'll also marvel at the complexity of names and puzzle over an undead corpse.

Intro:

In 1875, Frederick Law Olmsted warned his son of the dangers of unchecked pussycats.

Dogs were formerly so common at church services that "dog whippers" were employed to manage them.

Sources for our feature on August Gissler:

Ralph Hancock and Julian A. Weston, The Lost Treasure of Cocos Island, 1960.

John Chetwood, Our Search for the Missing Millions of Cocos Island: Being an Account of a Curious Cruise and a More Than Curious Character, 1904.

Hervey De Montmorency, On the Track of a Treasure: The Story of an Adventurous Expedition to the Pacific Island of Cocos in Search of Treasure of Untold Value Hidden by Pirates, 1904.

Theon Wright, The Voyage of the Herman, 1966.

David McIntee, Fortune and Glory: A Treasure Hunter's Handbook, 2016.

Alex Capus, Sailing by Starlight: In Search of Treasure Island, 2013.

Judith Schalansky, Atlas of Remote Islands, 2010.

Alban Stewart, "Expedition of the California Academy of Sciences to the Galapagos Islands, 1905-1906: V. Notes on the Botany of Cocos Island," Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, Fourth Series, Vol. 1, Jan. 19, 1912, 375-404.

Laws of the American Republics Relating to Immigration and the Sale of Public Lands: Costa Rica, United States Congressional Serial Set, Issue 2, 1892.

Maarten Kappelle, Costa Rican Ecosystems, 2016.

"Gold of Cocos Not for Them," San Francisco Call, Oct. 14, 1901.

"Race for Treasure," Topeka State Journal, Aug. 4, 1902.

Alban Stewart, "Further Observations on the Origin of the Galapagos Islands," The Plant World 18:7 (July 1915), 192-200.

"People Do Find Buried Treasure: Like to Join in the Search?" Changing Times 10:5 (May 1956), 44.

Stuart Mann, "Another 'Treasure' Island?" Toronto Star, Aug. 26, 1989, H5.

Denise Kusel, "Only in Santa Fe: Sailing Family Reaches Mystical Cocos," Santa Fe New Mexican, June 24, 2001, B-1.

Jos Eduardo Mora, "Culture-Costa Rica: New Status to Help Preserve 'Treasure Island,'" Global Information Network, Dec. 21, 2002, 1.

"Explorers Closing In on Pirate's Fabled Buried Treasure," Sunday Independent, Aug. 5, 2012.

Jasper Copping, "'Treasure Island' Jewels Sought," Edmonton Journal, Aug. 6, 2012, A.2.

Graham Clifford, "Did an 'Indo' Man Get the Hidden €200m Pirates' Treasure First?" Independent, Aug. 12, 2012.

Jasper Copping, "British Expedition to Pacific 'Treasure Island' Where Pirates Buried Their Plunder," Telegraph, Aug. 5, 2012.

Jasper Copping, "Closing in on Treasure Island's Hoard: An English Explorer Believes Hi-Tech Wizardry Can Finally Locate a Fabled 160m Stash Buried on Cocos, Off Costa Rica's Coast," Sunday Telegraph, Aug. 5, 2012, 27.

Karen Catchpole, "Crossing Paradise: Off Costa Rica's Remote and Pristine Cocos Island, a Profusion of Fish Draws Divers -- and Illegal Fishermen -- to the Protected Marine Area," Minneapolis Star Tribune, Sept. 23, 2012, G.1.

Bernie McClenny, "Cocos Island - TI9," QST 99:2 (February 2015), 93-94.

Listener mail:

Patrick McKenzie, "Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names," June 17, 2010.

"Awesome Falsehood: A Curated List of Awesome Falsehoods Programmers Believe in," GitHub (accessed August 11, 2018).

Richard Ishida, "Personal Names Around the World," W3C, Aug. 17, 2011.

Wikipedia, "Chinese Name" (accessed August 11, 2018).

Wikipedia, "Mononymous Person" (accessed August 11, 2018).

Michael Tandy, "Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Addresses," May 29, 2013.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Jamie Cox, who sent this corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle).

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Aug 13, 2018
211-Cast Away on an Ice Floe
33:16

Germany's polar expedition of 1869 took a dramatic turn when 14 men were shipwrecked on an ice floe off the eastern coast of Greenland. As the frozen island carried them slowly toward settlements in the south, it began to break apart beneath them. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow the crew of the Hansa on their desperate journey toward civilization.

We'll also honor a slime mold and puzzle over a reversing sunset.

Intro:

The yellow-bellied longclaw, Macronyx flavigaster, could produce the long-sought 10×10 word square.

Bruckner's seventh symphony has made generations of cymbalists nervous.

A ground plan of the "Hansa house," from expedition commander Karl Koldewey's 1874 narrative.

Sources for our feature on the Hansa:

Fergus Fleming, Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole, 2007.

William James Mills, Exploring Polar Frontiers: A Historical Encyclopedia, 2003.

David Thomas Murphy, German Exploration of the Polar World: A History, 1870-1940, 2002.

Karl Koldewey, The German Arctic Expedition of 1869-70: And Narrative of the Wreck of the "Hansa" in the Ice, 1874.

"The 'Polaris' Arctic Expedition," Nature 8:194 (July 17, 1873), 217-220.

"The Second German Arctic Expedition," Nature 11:265 (Nov. 26, 1874), 63-66.

"The Latest Arctic Explorations -- The Remarkable Escape of the Polaris Party," Scientific American 28:23 (June 7, 1873), 352-353.

Leopold M'Clintock, "Resumé of the Recent German Expedition, from the Reports of Captain Koldewey and Dr. Laube," Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London 15:2 (1870-1871), 102-114.

William Barr, "Background to Captain Hegemann's Account of the Voyage of Hansa and of the Ice-Drift," Polar Geography and Geology 17:4 (1993), 259-263.

"The Polaris," Report to the Secretary of the Navy, Executive Documents, First Session, 43rd Congress, 1873-1874, 12-627.

Fridtjof Nansen, "Towards the North Pole," Longman's Magazine 17:97 (November 1890), 37-48.

T. Nelson, Recent Expeditions to Eastern Polar Seas, 1882.

N.S. Dodge, "The German Arctic Expedition," Appleton's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art 5:93 (Jan. 14, 1871), 46-47.

"The Thrones of the Ice-King; or, Recent Journeys Towards the Poles," Boy's Own Paper 5:237 (July 28, 1883), 700-702.

William Henry Davenport Adams, The Arctic: A History of Its Discovery, Its Plants, Animals and Natural Phenomena, 1876.

"A Contrast," New York Times, July 21, 1875.

"Letters to the Editor," New York Times, July 12, 1875.

A sphinx of snow.

Listener mail:

"I am the Airport K-9 Guy. My dog is the 'Airport Guard Dog' that made the front page last week. AMA!," Reddit Ask Me Anything, Feb. 29, 2016.

Cherry Capital Airport K-9.

Kris Van Cleave, "Meet Piper, a Dog Helping Protect Planes From Bird Strikes," CBS News, June 9, 2016.

"Visiting Non-Human Scholar: Physarum Polycephalum," Hampshire College (accessed July 26, 2018).

Robby Berman, "Slime Molds Join the Faculty at Hampshire College," Big Think (accessed July 26, 2018).

Robby Berman, "Scientists Catch Slimes Learning, Even Though They Have 0 Neurons," Big Think (accessed July 26, 2018).

Karen Brown, "Should We Model Human Behavior on a Brainless, Single-Cell Amoeba?", NEPR, Nov. 7, 2017.

Ashley P. Taylor, "Slime Mold in Residence," The Scientist, March 2, 2018.

Joseph Stromberg, "If the Interstate System Were Designed by a Slime Mold," Smithsonian.com, May 15, 2012.

"Heather Barnett: What Humans Can Learn From Semi-Intelligent Slime," TED, July 17, 2014.

Tejal Rao, "With a Sniff and a Signal, These Dogs Hunt Down Threats to Bees," New York Times, July 3, 2018.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Dan Lardner.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Aug 06, 2018
210-Lateral Thinking Puzzles
34:29

Here are six new lateral thinking puzzles -- play along with us as we try to untangle some perplexing situations using yes-or-no questions.

Here are the sources for this week's puzzles. In a few places we've included links to further information -- these contain spoilers, so don't click until you've listened to the episode:

Puzzle #1 was contributed by listener Amy Howard.

Puzzle #2 was suggested by an item on the podcast No Such Thing as a Fish. Here are some corroborating links: 1, 2, 3, 4

Puzzle #3 was inspired by an item in Jerry Clark and Ed Palattella's 2015 book A History of Heists, and here's a link.

Puzzle #4 was devised by Sharon. Here are two links; note that both contain some nudity.

Puzzle #5 is from listener Justin Sabe, who was inspired by an item on the podcast 99% Invisible.

Puzzle #6 is from listener Sam Dyck, who sent these links.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Google Play Music or via the RSS feed at https://futilitycloset.libsyn.com/rss.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Jul 23, 2018
209-Lost Off Newfoundland
33:56

In 1883 fisherman Howard Blackburn was caught in a blizzard off the coast of Newfoundland. Facing bitter cold in an 18-foot boat, he passed through a series of harrowing adventures in a desperate struggle to stay alive and find help. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow Blackburn's dramatic story, which made him famous around the world.

We'll also admire a runaway chicken and puzzle over a growing circle of dust.

Intro:

During Oxfordshire's annual stag hunt in 1819, the quarry took refuge in a chapel.

With the introduction of electric light, some American cities erected "moonlight towers."

Sources for our feature on Howard Blackburn:

Joseph E. Garland, Lone Voyager: The Extraordinary Adventures of Howard Blackburn, Hero Fisherman of Gloucester, 1963.

Louis Arthur Norton, "Th