Futility Closet

By Greg Ross

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Subscribers: 1076
Reviews: 12

Allana
 Feb 16, 2021
An absolute favorite

Fraulein
 Oct 25, 2020
Interesting, wide-ranging topics, lovely chemistry between the hosts. The most wholesome podcast I know.


 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.

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
342-A Slave Sues for Freedom
33:01

In 1844 New Orleans was riveted by a dramatic trial: A slave claimed that she was really a free immigrant who had been pressed into bondage as a young girl. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Sally Miller's fight for freedom, which challenged notions of race and social hierarchy in antebellum Louisiana.

We'll also try to pronounce some drug names and puzzle over some cheated tram drivers.

Intro:

In 1992, a Florida bankruptcy judge held a computer in contempt of court.

The 1908 grave of Vermont atheist George P. Spencer is inscribed with his credo.

Sources for our feature on Sally Miller:

Carol Wilson, The Two Lives of Sally Miller: A Case of Mistaken Racial Identity in Antebellum New Orleans, 2007.

Paul Finkelman, Free Blacks, Slaves, and Slaveowners in Civil and Criminal Courts: The Pamphlet Literature, 2007.

Gwendoline Alphonso, "Public & Private Order: Law, Race, Morality, and the Antebellum Courts of Louisiana, 1830-1860," Journal of Southern Legal History 23 (2015), 117-160.

Emily West, "The Two Lives of Sally Miller," Slavery & Abolition 30:1 (March 2009), 151-152.

Carol Lazzaro-Weis, "The Two Lives of Sally Miller: A Case of Mistaken Racial Identity in Antebellum New Orleans," Journal of Southern History 74:4 (November 2008), 970-971.

Frank Towers, "The Two Lives of Sally Miller: A Case of Mistaken Identity in Antebellum New Orleans," American Historical Review 113:1 (February 2008), 181-182.

Scott Hancock, "The Two Lives of Sally Miller: A Case of Mistaken Racial Identity in Antebellum New Orleans," Journal of American History 94:3 (December 2007), 931-932.

Daneen Wardrop, "Ellen Craft and the Case of Salomé Muller in Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom," Women's Studies 33:7 (2004), 961-984.

Patricia Herminghouse, "The German Secrets of New Orleans," German Studies Review 27:1 (February 2004), 1-16.

Marouf Hasian Jr., "Performative Law and the Maintenance of Interracial Social Boundaries: Assuaging Antebellum Fears of 'White Slavery' and the Case of Sally Miller/Salome Müller," Text & Performance Quarterly 23:1 (January 2003), 55-86.

Ariela Gross, "Beyond Black and White: Cultural Approaches to Race and Slavery," Columbia Law Review 101:3 (April 2001), 640-690.

Stephan Talty, "Spooked: The White Slave Narratives," Transition 85 (2000), 48-75.

Carol Wilson, "Sally Muller, the White Slave," Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association 40:2 (Spring 1999), 133-153.

Ariela J. Gross, "Litigating Whiteness: Trials of Racial Determination in the Nineteenth-Century South," Yale Law Journal 108:1 (October 1998), 109-188.

Carol Wilson and Calvin D. Wilson, "White Slavery: An American Paradox," Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies 19:1 (1998).

Wilbert E. Moore, "Slave Law and the Social Structure," Journal of Negro History 26:2 (April 1941), 171-202.

"Case of Salome Müller," Law Reporter 8:7 (November 1845), 332-333.

Nina C. Ayoub, "'The Two Lives of Sally Miller: A Case of Mistaken Racial Identity in Antebellum New Orleans,'" Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 19, 2007.

Carol Edwards, "Story of German Slave Girl 'Extraordinary,' But Is It True?", [Charleston, S.C.] Post and Courier, March 20, 2005.

Mary-Liz Shaw, "'The Lost German Slave Girl' Unravels a Mystery of Old South," Knight Ridder Tribune News Service, Jan. 26, 2005.

Gregory M. Lamb, "The Peculiar Color of Racial Justice," Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 25, 2005.

Linda Wolfe, "Sally Miller's Struggle to Escape Slavery Ended in Celebrated Case," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan. 23, 2005.

Debra J. Dickerson, "Making a Case for Freedom: Was a White German Girl Forced Into Slavery?" Boston Globe, Jan. 23, 2005.

Jonathan Yardley, "The Case of Sally Miller," Washington Post, Jan. 20, 2005.

"Strange Case in New Orleans," Alexandria Gazette, July 3, 1845.

"City Affairs," New-York Daily Tribune, July 11, 1844.

Madison Cloud, Improvising Structures of Power and Race: The Sally Miller Story and New Orleans, dissertation, Baylor University, 2015.

Carol Wilson, "Miller, Sally," American National Biography, April 2008.

Listener mail:

David Lazarus, "Wonder Where Generic Drug Names Come From? Two Women in Chicago, That's Where," Los Angeles Times, July 23, 2019.

"Naming Law in Sweden," Wikipedia (accessed April 30, 2021).

"Baby Named Metallica Rocks Sweden," BBC News, April 4, 2007.

Meredith MacLeod, "Sweden Rejects 'Ford' as Name for Canadian-Swedish Couple's Son," CTVNews, Nov. 9, 2018.

"Naming Law," Wikipedia (accessed April 30, 2021).

"Naming in the United States," Wikipedia (accessed April 30, 2021).

Tovin Lapan, "California Birth Certificates and Accents: O'Connor Alright, Ramón and José Is Not," Guardian, April 11, 2015.

"AB-82 Vital records: diacritical marks" (as amended), California Legislative Information, Sept. 15, 2017.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Charlotte Greener. 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!

May 10, 2021
341-An Overlooked Bacteriologist
30:53

In the 1890s, Waldemar Haffkine worked valiantly to develop vaccines against both cholera and bubonic plague. Then an unjust accusation derailed his career. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Haffkine's momentous work in India, which has been largely overlooked by history.

We'll also consider some museum cats and puzzle over an endlessly energetic vehicle.

Intro:

The Galveston hurricane of 1915 carried 21,000-pound buoy 10 miles.

Lillian Russell designed a portable dresser for touring actresses.

Sources for our feature on Waldemar Haffkine:

Selman A. Waksman, The Brilliant and Tragic Life of W.M.W. Haffkine, Bacteriologist, 1964.

Waldemar Mordecai Wolffe Haffkine, Anti-Cholera Inoculation, 1895.

Tilli Tansey, "Rats and Racism: A Tale of US Plague," Nature 568:7753 (April 25, 2019), 454-455.

Yusra Husain, "Lucknow: Bubonic Plague Vaccine and a 123-Year-Old Family Tale," Times of India, July 29, 2020.

Stanley B. Barns, "Waldemar Haffkine and the 1911 Chinese Pneumonic Plague Epidemic," Pulmonary Reviews 13:3 (March 2008), 9.

Jake Scobey-Thal, "The Plague," Foreign Policy 210 (January/February 2015), 24-25.

Marina Sorokina, "Between Faith and Reason: Waldemar Haffkine (1860-1930) in India," in Kenneth X. Robbins and Marvin Tokayer, eds., Western Jews in India: From the Fifteenth Century to the Present, 2013, 161-178.

Pratik Chakrabarti, "'Living versus Dead': The Pasteurian Paradigm and Imperial Vaccine Research," Bulletin of the History of Medicine 84:3 (Fall 2010), 387-423.

Barbara J. Hawgood, "Waldemar Mordecai Haffkine, CIE (1860–1930): Prophylactic Vaccination Against Cholera and Bubonic Plague in British India," Journal of Medical Biography 15:1 (2007), 9-19.

Myron Echenberg, "Pestis Redux: The Initial Years of the Third Bubonic Plague Pandemic, 1894-1901," Journal of World History 13:2 (Fall 2002), 429-449.

Natasha Sarkar, "Plague in Bombay: Response of Britain's Indian Subjects to Colonial Intervention," Proceedings of the Indian History Congress 62 (2001), 442-449.

Ilana Löwy, "From Guinea Pigs to Man: The Development of Haffkine's Anticholera Vaccine," Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 47:3 (July 1992), 270-309.

Eli Chernin, "Ross Defends Haffkine: The Aftermath of the Vaccine-Associated Mulkowal Disaster of 1902," Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 46:2 (April 1991), 201-218.

Edythe Lutzker and Carol Jochnowitz, "The Curious History of Waldemar Haffkine," Commentary 69:006 (June 1980), 61.

W.J. Simpson, "Waldemar Haffkine, CIE," British Medical Journal 2:3644 (1930), 801.

Waldemar Mordecai Haffkine, "A Lecture on Vaccination Against Cholera: Delivered in the Examination Hall of the Conjoint Board of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of London and Surgeons of England, December 18th, 1895," British Medical Journal 2:1825 (1895), 1541.

Waldemar Mordecai Haffkine, "On Preventive Inoculation," Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 65:413-422 (1900), 252-271.

Waldemar Mordecai Haffkine and W.J. Simpson, "A Contribution to the Etiology of Cholera," Indian Medical Gazette 30:3 (1895), 89.

Waldemar Mordecai Haffkine, E.H. Hankin, and Ch. H. Owen, "Technique of Haffkine's Anti-Choleraic Inoculations," Indian Medical Gazette 29:6 (1894), 201.

Andrew Scottie, "The Vaccine Passport Debate Isn't New: It Started in 1897 During a Plague Pandemic," CNN Wire Service, April 14, 2021.

"How the World's Race for Vaccination Was Won," [Surry Hills, N.S.W.] Daily Telegraph, Feb. 23, 2021.

Joel Gunter and Vikas Pandey, "Waldemar Haffkine: The Vaccine Pioneer the World Forgot," BBC News, Dec. 11, 2020.

Vikram Doctor, "The Risks and Rewards of Human Trials," [New Delhi] Economic Times, May 9, 2020.

Donald G. McNeil, Jr., "Can the Government Require Vaccinations? Yes," New York Times, April 11, 2019.

Henry Marsh, "The Sniping Scientists Whose Work Saved Millions of Lives," New York Times, Sept. 3, 2018.

William F. Bynum, "Review --- Books: Anxieties Immune to Reason," Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2018.

Faye Flam, "Please Don't Try This Biohacking at Home," Chicago Tribune, June 8, 2018.

Ashlin Mathew, "Falling Into the Rattrap," [Noida] Mail Today, April 5, 2015.

Nicholas Bakalar, "Milestones in Combating Cholera," New York Times, Oct. 1, 2012.

"Death of Dr. Haffkine," [Perth] Westralian Judean, Feb. 1, 1931.

"Neglect of Genius," [Brisbane] Telegraph, May 12, 1923.

"A Scientist From India," [Victoria] Jewish Herald, Nov. 5, 1915.

"Dinner to Dr. Haffkine," Hebrew Standard of Australasia, July 28, 1899.

Ernest Hart, "Fighting Cholera on the Ganges," Salt Lake Herald, Nov. 2, 1896.

Listener mail:

Quite Interesting, "Last week, the Union of Museum Cats was established ...," Twitter, March 3, 2021.

Lana Svetlova, "The First Trade Union of Museum Cats in Russia Was Decided to Be Created in St. Petersburg," MKRU St. Petersburg, April 26, 2021.

"Hermitage Cats," Wikipedia (accessed April 21, 2021).

"Frenchman Leaves Inheritance to St. Petersburg's Hermitage Cats," Moscow Times, Dec. 3, 2020.

Alexander Marquardt, "St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum Home to Masters ... and Cats," ABC News, July 21, 2010.

Teresa Levonian Cole, "St Petersburg: The Cats of the Hermitage," Telegraph, May 23, 2013.

Mary Ilyushina and Amy Woodyatt, "A French Man Has Left Money to 50 Cats Who Live in Russia's Hermitage Museum," CNN, Dec. 7, 2020.

"Hermitage Museum," Wikipedia (accessed April 24, 2021).

Mikey Smith, "No10 Staff Told to Cut Down on Treats for Larry the Cat as He Piles on Lockdown Pounds," Mirror, March 9, 2021.

Justin Ng, "Just seen @Number10cat see off a fox ...," Twitter, April 20, 2021.

Sam Baker, "The Fur Flies at Number Ten: Larry the Downing Street Cat Sees Off Rival FOX in Scrap Behind Prime Minister's Home," Daily Mail, April 20, 2021.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Sam Tilley, 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 03, 2021
340-A Vanished Physicist
33:09

In 1938, Italian physicist Ettore Majorana vanished after taking a sudden sea journey. At first it was feared that he'd ended his life, but the perplexing circumstances left the truth uncertain. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review the facts of Majorana's disappearance, its meaning for physics, and a surprising modern postscript.

We'll also dither over pronunciation and puzzle over why it will take three days to catch a murderer.

Intro:

By design, no building in Washington, D.C., is taller than the Washington Monument.

The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra plays instruments made of fresh vegetables.

Sources for our feature on Ettore Majorana:

Erasmo Recami, The Majorana Case: Letters, Documents, Testimonies, 2019.

Salvatore Esposito, Ettore Majorana: Unveiled Genius and Endless Mysteries, 2017.

Salvatore Esposito, The Physics of Ettore Majorana, 2015.

Salvatore Esposito et al., eds., Ettore Majorana: Notes on Theoretical Physics, 2013.

Salvatore Esposito, Erasmo Recami, and Alwyn Van der Merwe, eds., Ettore Majorana: Unpublished Research Notes on Theoretical Physics, 2008.

Francesco Guerra and Nadia Robotti, "Biographical Notes on Ettore Majorana," in Luisa Cifarelli, ed., Scientific Papers of Ettore Majorana, 2020.

Mark Buchanan, "In Search of Majorana," Nature Physics 11:3 (March 2015), 206.

Michael Brooks, "The Vanishing Particle Physicist," New Statesman 143:5233 (Oct. 24, 2014), 18-19.

Francesco Guerra and Nadia Robotti, "The Disappearance and Death of Ettore Majorana," Physics in Perspective 15:2 (June 2013), 160-177.

Salvatore Esposito, "The Disappearance of Ettore Majorana: An Analytic Examination," Contemporary Physics 51:3 (2010), 193-209.

Ennio Arimondo, Charles W. Clark, and William C. Martin, "Colloquium: Ettore Majorana and the Birth of Autoionization," Reviews of Modern Physics 82:3 (2010), 1947.

Graham Farmelo, "A Brilliant Darkness: The Extraordinary Life and Mysterious Disappearance of Ettore Majorana, the Troubled Genius of the Nuclear Age," Times Higher Education, Feb. 18, 2010.

Frank Close, "Physics Mystery Peppered With Profanity," Nature 463:7277 (Jan. 7, 2010), 33.

Joseph Francese, "Leonardo Sciascia and The Disappearance of Majorana," Journal of Modern Italian Studies 15:5 (2010), 715-733.

Frank Wilczek, "Majorana Returns," Nature Physics 5:9 (2009), 614-618.

Barry R. Holstein, "The Mysterious Disappearance of Ettore Majorana," Journal of Physics: Conference Series 173, Carolina International Symposium on Neutrino Physics, May 15–17, 2008.

Joseph Farrell, "The Ethics of Science: Leonardo Sciascia and the Majorana Case," Modern Language Review 102:4 (October 2007), 1021-1034.

Zeeya Merali, "The Man Who Was Both Alive and Dead," New Scientist 191:2563 (Aug. 5, 2006), 15.

Erasmo Recami, "The Scientific Work of Ettore Majorana: An Introduction," Electronic Journal of Theoretical Physics 3:10 (April 2006), 1-10.

Ettore Majorana and Luciano Maiani, "A Symmetric Theory of Electrons and Positrons," Ettore Majorana Scientific Papers, 2006.

R. Mignani, E. Recami, and M. Baldo, "About a Dirac-Like Equation for the Photon According to Ettore Majorana," Lettere al Nuovo Cimento 11:12 (April 1974), 568-572.

Angelo Paratico, "Science Focus: Italy Closes Case on Physician's Mysterious Disappearance," South China Morning Post, Feb. 15, 2015.

Antonino Zichichi, "Ettore Majorana: Genius and Mystery," CERN Courier 46 (2006), N6.

Peter Hebblethwaite, "Saints for Our Time," Guardian, April 17, 1987.

Walter Sullivan, "Finding on Radioactivity May Upset Physics Law," New York Times, Jan. 14, 1987.

Nino Lo Bello, "Is Missing Atomic Scientist Working for the Russians?" [Cedar Rapids, Iowa] Gazette, May 3, 1959.

Listener mail:

"Farmers Project Is Right on Time," New Zealand Herald, Feb. 6, 2012.

"Farmers Opens New Napier Store," Scoop, June 6, 2013.

Megan Garber, "The State of Wyoming Has 2 Escalators," Atlantic, July 17, 2013.

Brandon Specktor, "Believe It or Not, This State Only Has Two Escalators -- Here's Why," Reader's Digest, Sept. 8, 2017.

Audie Cornish and Melissa Block, "Where Are All of Wyomings Escalators?" NPR, July 18, 2013.

Natasha Frost, "Spiral Escalators Look Cool, But Do They Make Sense?" Atlas Obscura, July 5, 2017.

"Spiral Escalator," Elevatorpedia (accesssed April 17, 2021).

"Aussie," Wikipedia (accessed April 16, 2021).

"Sir George Cockburn, 10th Baronet," Wikipedia (accessed April 14, 2021).

"Naming Cockburn," City of Cockburn (accessed April 14, 2021).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle is taken from Anges Rogers' 1953 book How Come?: A Book of Riddles, sent to us by listener Jon Jerome.

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 26, 2021
339-The Baron of Arizona
32:16

In 1883, Missouri real estate broker James Reavis announced that he held title to a huge tract of land in the Arizona Territory. If certified, the claim would threaten the livelihoods of thousands of residents. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Baron of Arizona, one of the most audacious frauds in American history.

We'll also scrutinize British statues and puzzle over some curious floor numbers.

Intro:

In 1891, Charles Dodgson wrote a curiously unforthcoming letter to Nellie Bowman.

Reputedly the English geologist William Buckland could distinguish a region by the smell of its soil.

Sources for our feature on James Reavis:

Donald M. Powell, The Peralta Grant: James Addison Reavis and the Barony of Arizona, 1960.

E.H. Cookridge, The Baron of Arizona, 1967.

Jay J. Wagoner, Arizona Territory, 1863-1912: A Political History, 1970.

Donald M. Powell, "The Peralta Grant: A Lost Arizona Story," Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 50:1 (First Quarter, 1956), 40-52.

Walter Barlow Stevens, Missouri the Center State: 1821-1915, Volume 2, 1915.

Joseph Stocker, "The Baron of Arizona," American History 36:1 (April 2001), 20.

J.D. Kitchens, "Forging Arizona: A History of the Peralta Land Grant and Racial Identity in the West," Choice 56:12 (August 2019), 1515.

Donald M. Powell, "The Baron of Arizona by E. H. Cookridge (review)," Western American Literature 4:1 (Spring 1969), 73-74.

Tim Bowman, "Forging Arizona: A History of the Peralta Land Grant and Racial Identity in the West (review)," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 123:3 (January 2020), 386-387.

Ira G. Clark, "The Peralta Grant: James Addison Reavis and the Barony of Arizona by Donald M. Powell (review)," Mississippi Valley Historical Review 47:3 (December 1960), 522-523.

McIntyre Faries, "The Peralta Grant — James Addison Reavis and the Barony of Arizona by Donald M. Powell (review)," Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly 42:3 (September 1960), 315.

Donald M. Powell, "The 'Baron of Arizona' Self-Revealed: A Letter to His Lawyer in 1894," Arizona and the West 1:2 (Summer 1959), 161-173.

Clarence Budington Kelland, "The Red Baron of Arizona," Saturday Evening Post 220:15 (Oct. 11, 1947), 22.

Marshall Trimble, "The Baron of Arizona," True West Magazine, April 2, 2015.

Oren Arnold, "Skulduggery in the Southwest," Saturday Evening Post 216:34 (Feb. 19, 1944), 68.

Jeff Jackson, "Reavis Put Arizola on Map Ignominiously," [Casa Grande, Ariz.] Tri-Valley Dispatch, June 2, 2020.

"Arizona's Long, Rich History of Land Fraud," Arizona Republic, Dec. 29, 2019.

Ron Dungan, "The 'Baron of Arizona,' a Most Royal Fraud," Arizona Republic, March 6, 2016.

Jaimee Rose, "Forger Claimed 12 Mil Acres," Arizona Republic, Oct. 14, 2012.

Richard Ruelas, "'Baron of Arizona' Reigns Again," Arizona Republic, Jan. 28, 2008.

Clay Thompson, "'Baron' Reavis Behind State's Biggest Scam," Arizona Republic, March 12, 2006.

"The 12-Million-Acre Swindle That Failed," Arizona Republic, Jan. 12, 2002.

Bill Hume, "Sly Headstone Maker Nearly Carved Off Hunk of Southwest," Albuquerque Journal, July 9, 2000.

Mitchell Smyth, "Baron of Arizona Really 'Prince of Imposters,'" Toronto Star, Feb. 12, 2000.

Marshall Sprague, "A Crook by Choice," New York Times, July 9, 1967.

"Skulduggery in Arizona Land Office," New York Times, June 23, 1950.

"Peralta Reavis Turns Up Again," Socorro [N.M.] Chieftain, July 2, 1904.

Will M. Tipton, "The Prince of Impostors: Part I," Land of Sunshine 8:3 (February 1898), 106–118.

Will M. Tipton, "The Prince of Impostors: Part II," Land of Sunshine 8:4 (March 1898), 161–170.

"Indicted on Two Score Counts: Land Claimant Reavis to Be Prosecuted by the Government," New York Times, Jan. 20, 1896.

"Reavis Conspirators," Arizona Republican, Jan. 3, 1896.

"The 'Baron of the Colorados': He Claims a Great Tract of Land in Arizona," New York Times, July 7, 1891.

Listener mail:

Mark Brown, "Royal Mint to Commemorate Fossil Hunter Mary Anning," Guardian, Feb. 24, 2021.

"Mary Anning: Fossil Hunter Celebrated With Jurassic 50p Coins," BBC News, Feb. 25, 2021.

"Mary Anning Rocks" (accessed April 7, 2021).

Caroline Criado-Perez, "I Sorted the UK's Statues by Gender -- a Mere 2.7 Per Cent Are of Historical, Non-Royal Women," New Statesman, March 26, 2016.

"Reality Check: How Many UK Statues Are of Women?" BBC News, April 24, 2018.

Megan O'Grady, "Why Are There So Few Monuments That Successfully Depict Women?" New York Times, Feb. 18, 2021.

Shachar Peled, "Where Are the Women? New Effort to Give Them Just Due on Monuments, Street Names," CNN, March 8, 2017.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Colin 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 19, 2021
338-A Point of Law
29:48

One dark night in 1804, a London excise officer mistook a bricklayer for a ghost and shot him. This raised a difficult question: Was he guilty of murder? In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll consider the case of the Hammersmith ghost, which has been called "one of the greatest curiosities in English criminal law."

We'll also worry about British spiders and puzzle over some duplicative dog names.

Intro:

In 1850, an English doctor claimed to have given first aid to a pike.

In 1970, Air Force pilot Gary Foust ejected from his F-106 and watched it land itself.

Sources for our feature on the Hammersmith ghost:

W.M. Medland and Charles Weobly, A Collection of Remarkable and Interesting Criminal Trials, Actions at Law, &c., 1804.

Thomas Faulkner, The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Hammersmith, 1839.

James Paterson, Curiosities of Law and Lawyers, 1899.

Thomas Faulkner, An Historical and Topographical Account of Fulham: Including the Hamlet of Hammersmith, 1813.

R.S. Kirby, Kirby's Wonderful and Scientific Museum: Or, Magazine of Remarkable Characters, Volume 2, 1804.

Jacob Middleton, "An Aristocratic Spectre," History Today 61:2 (February 2011), 44-45.

Alfred Whitman, "A Hundred Years Ago -- 1804," Strand 28:168 (December 1904), 632-638.

Augustus K. Stephenson, "Ghost Stories of 100 Years Ago," Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 208:11 (April 1904), 214-220.

John Ezard, "Ghostly Murder Haunts Lawyers 200 Years On," Guardian, Jan. 2, 2004.

"The Case of the Murdered Ghost," BBC News, Jan. 3, 2004.

"Killing of a 'Ghost' That Haunted Courts for 180 Years," [Glasgow] Herald, Jan. 3, 2004.

"Experts to Remember Spectral Shooting," Birmingham Post, Jan. 3, 2004.

Arifa Akbar, "Club Hosts Gathering in Honour of Famous Ghost Case," Independent, Jan. 3, 2004.

Martin Baggoley, "The Hammersmith Ghost and the Strange Death of Thomas Millwood," Crime Magazine, April 9, 2015.

"'Laying' a Ghost," [Brisbane] Telegraph, March 8, 1924.

"A Ghost Story of 100 Years Ago," Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate, Oct. 29, 1910.

"From the Courts," Brisbane Courier, Dec. 22, 1906.

"Strange Stories of London Ghosts," [Melbourne] Leader, Oct. 6, 1900.

"Dream Evidence," [Adelaide] Express and Telegraph, Feb. 21, 1891.

"Ghosts, Witches, and Hangmen," Moreton [Qld.] Mail, Nov. 22, 1889.

"Glimpses of the Past," Bury and Norwich Post, Sept. 7, 1886.

"Resuscitation of the Hammersmith Ghost," [London] Examiner, Dec. 15, 1833.

"The Hammersmith Ghost," [London] Morning Post, Dec. 6, 1824.

"A New Hammersmith Ghost," [London] Morning Chronicle, Dec. 4, 1824.

"Old Bailey," Aberdeen Journal, Jan. 25, 1804.

"Murder -- Hammersmith Ghost," Bury and Norwich Post, Jan. 18, 1804.

"From the London Gazette," Hampshire Telegraph and Naval Chronicle, Jan. 16, 1804.

"The Hammersmith Ghost," Caledonian Mercury, Jan. 14, 1804.

"The Real Hammersmith Ghost," Staffordshire Advertiser, Jan. 14, 1804.

Trial proceedings from the Old Bailey.

Jane Alexander, "The Time Someone Shot a Ghost Dead in Hammersmith," Londonist, Oct. 25, 2019.

Ross Macfarlane, "The Hammersmith Ghost," Wellcome Library blog, Oct. 31, 2009.

Kelly Buchanan, "The Case of a Ghost Haunted England for Over Two Hundred Years," In Custodia Legis, Library of Congress, Oct. 30, 2015.

Gabrielle Keane, Locating Literature in the Ghost Hoax: An Exploration of 19th-Century Print News Media, dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, 2019.

Jen Cadwallader, Spirits of the Age: Ghost Stories and the Victorian Psyche, dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2009.

Listener mail:

"Bing (TV series)," Wikipedia (accessed March 24, 2021).

"List of Bing episodes," Wikipedia (accessed March 24, 2021).

Amber Tully, "Should You Put Ice on a Burn (or Not)?" Cleveland Clinic, June 12, 2018.

"Minor Burns - Aftercare," MedLine Plus, Aug. 13, 2020.

Anahad O'Connor, "The Claim: Ice Is Good for a Skin Burn," New York Times, June 10, 2008.

Luis Villazon, "How Many UK Spiders Are Actually Dangerous?" BBC Science Focus (accessed March 24, 2021).

"Spider," Wikipedia (accessed March 30, 2021).

"Not So False After All: Venom of the Noble False Widow Spider Very Similar to the Venom of 'True' Black Widows," NUI Galway, June 18, 2020.

John P. Dunbar et al., "Venomics Approach Reveals a High Proportion of Lactrodectus-Like Toxins in the Venom of the Noble False Widow Spider Steatoda nobilis," Toxins, 12:6 (June 18, 2020), 402.

"Study Finds Noble False Widow Spiders Bite Can Transmit Harmful Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria to Humans," NUI Galway, Dec. 1, 2020.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Stephen Harvey, 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 05, 2021
337-Lost in a Daydream
31:18

In 1901, two English academics met a succession of strange characters during a visit to Versailles. They came to believe that they had strayed somehow into the mind of Marie Antoinette in the year before her execution. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the Moberly-Jourdain affair, a historical puzzle wrapped in a dream.

We'll also revisit Christmas birthdays and puzzle over a presidential term.

Intro:

In 1936, Evelyn Waugh asked Laura Herbert whether "you could bear the idea of marrying me."

In 1832, Mrs. T.T. Boddington was struck by lightning.

Charlotte Anne Moberly (left) and Eleanor Jourdain. Sources for our feature on the incident at Versailles:

Charlotte Anne Elizabeth Moberly and Eleanor Frances Jourdain, An Adventure, 1913.

Roger Clarke, A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof, 2012.

Terry Castle, "'An Adventure' and Its Skeptics," Critical Inquiry 17:4 (Summer 1991), 741-772.

Laura Schwartz, "Enchanted Modernity, Anglicanism and the Occult in Early Twentieth-Century Oxford: Annie Moberly, Eleanor Jourdain and Their 'Adventure,'" Cultural and Social History 14:3 (2017), 301-319.

Keith Reader, "The Unheimliche Hameau: Nationality and Culture in The Moberly/Jourdain Affair," Australian Journal of French Studies 57:1, 93-102.

Fabio Camilletti, "Present Perfect: Time and the Uncanny in American Science and Horror Fiction of the 1970s (Finney, Matheson, King)," Image & Narrative 11:3 (2010), 25-41.

Rosemary Auchmuty, "Whatever Happened to Miss Bebb? Bebb v The Law Society and Women's Legal History," Legal Studies 31:2 (June 2011), 199-230.

Roger J. Morgan, "Correspondence," Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 76:909 (Oct. 1, 2012), 239-240.

Terry Castle, "Marie Antoinette Obsession," Representations 38 (Spring 1992), 1-38.

Richard Mawrey, "Phantom of the Trianon," Historic Gardens Review 25 (July 2011), 12-17.

Roger Betteridge, "How a Spooky Adventure Came Back to Haunt Reputation of Vicar's Daughter," Derby Evening Telegraph, Dec. 31, 2012.

Tim Richardson, "Hunted Ground," Daily Telegraph, Dec. 22, 2012.

Brian Dunning, "Unsolved Mystery of the Ghosts of Versailles," Kansas City [Mo.] Star, Nov. 1, 1965.

Tess Van Sommers, "Laying the Ghosts of Trianon," Sydney Morning Herald, Oct. 23, 1965.

"Ghost Story Probed," Cairns [Qld.] Post, Oct. 10, 1938.

"Stepped Back Into Another Century," [Rockhampton, Qld.] Morning Bulletin, Jan. 5, 1938.

"Phantom Lady of Versailles," [Murwillumbah, N.S.W.] Tweed Daily, July 12, 1937.

"Miss Anne Moberly, Educator at Oxford," New York Times, May 7, 1937.

Kristen Brooks, High Static, Dead Lines: Sonic Spectres & the Object Hereafter, dissertation, University of California, San Diego, 2017.

Janet Howarth, "Moberly, Charlotte Anne Elizabeth (1846–1937)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept. 23, 2004.

Janet Howarth, "Jourdain, Eleanor Frances (1863–1924)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept. 23, 2004.

Listener mail:

Albert A. Harrison, Nancy J. Struthers, and Michael Moore, "On the Conjunction of National Holidays and Reported Birthdates: One More Path to Reflected Glory?" Social Psychology Quarterly 51:4 (December 1988), 365-370.

Richard Wiseman, Quirkology, 2007.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Mike Berman.

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 29, 2021
336-A Gruesome Cure for Consumption
33:14

In the 19th century, some New England communities grew so desperate to help victims of tuberculosis that they resorted to a macabre practice: digging up dead relatives and ritually burning their organs. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll examine the causes of this bizarre belief and review some unsettling examples.

We'll also consider some fighting cyclists and puzzle over Freddie Mercury's stamp.

Intro:

Residents of Sydney and London could take a train to the local necropolis.

In the 19th century, a dog named Tschingel climbed 30 peaks.

Sources for our feature on the New England vampire panic:

Michael E. Bell, Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England’s Vampires, 2014.

Sarah Richardson, "When Americans Saw Vampires," American History 54:5 (December 2019), 7.

Michael E. Bell, "Vampires and Death in New England, 1784 to 1892," Anthropology and Humanism 31:2 (2006), 124-140.

George R. Stetson, "The Animistic Vampire in New England," American Anthropologist 9:1 (January 1896), 1-13.

John Buhler, "Disease and the Undead: Digging Up the Truth About Vampires," Canadian Journal of Medical Laboratory Science 81:3 (Fall 2019), 14-16.

Jennifer Daniels-Higginbotham et al., "DNA Testing Reveals the Putative Identity of JB55, a 19th Century Vampire Buried in Griswold, Connecticut," Genes 10:9 (2019), 636.

G. David Keyworth, "Was the Vampire of the Eighteenth Century a Unique Type of Undead-corpse?" Folklore 117:3 (December 2006), 241-260.

Patricia D. Lock, "America's Last Vampire," Calliope 22:2 (October 2011), 20.

Josepha Sherman, "Spirited Defense," Archaeology 57:3 (May/June 2004), 8.

Abigail Tucker, "The Great New England Vampire Panic," Smithsonian 43:6 (October 2012), 58-66.

Joe Bills, "New England's Vampire History," Yankee New England, Oct. 28, 2019.

"Letters to the Editor - New England Vampire Beliefs," Skeptical Inquirer 17:3 (Spring 1993), 339.

Morgan Hines, "DNA Evidence: This New England 'Vampire' Was Named John Barber in Life," USA Today, Aug. 10, 2019.

Michael E. Ruane, "Vampire Bones?; A 'Vampire's' Remains Were Found About 30 Years Ago and Now DNA Is Giving Him New Life," [Brantford, Ont.] Expositor, Aug. 1, 2019.

Craig S. Semon, "Uncovering 'Vampirism' in New England," [Worcester, Mass.] Telegram & Gazette, Sept. 30, 2015.

Valerie Franchi, "Author Shares Vivid Tales of Vampires: Bell Addresses Meeting of Historical Society," [Worcester, Mass.] Telegram & Gazette, Oct. 24, 2008.

Jascha Hoffman, "A New England Vampire Tale," Boston Globe, July 20, 2003.

Cate McQuaid, "The Secrets of the Grave When the Living Were Ill, They Sought Out the Dead," Boston Globe, Oct. 27, 2002.

"Tales of the Vampire Make Way Into Colonial Press, Finding Captive Audience," Hartford Courant, Oct. 24, 1999.

David Brown, "Uncovering a Therapy From the Grave," Washington Post, Oct. 25, 1993.

Sam Libby, "Cemetery Holds Tales of Vampires," New York Times, Feb. 16, 1992.

"Did Mercy Brown Become a Vampire?" [New London, Ct.] Day, Oct. 25, 1981.

"Romance in Origin of Superstitions," Omaha Daily Bee, Jan. 11, 1921.

Andrew Lange, "The Common Vampire," Washington Post, Aug. 21, 1904.

"Lang on the Vampire," Saint Paul Globe, Aug. 7, 1904.

"Believe in Vampires," Boston Globe, Jan. 27, 1896.

"Is Consumption Catching?" Quebec Saturday Budget, June 1, 1895.

"Did Vampires Really Stalk New England Farm Families?" New England Historical Society (accessed March 7, 2021).

Edgar B. Herwick III, "It's Not Just Witches. New England Has a History With Vampires, Too," The World, PRI, Oct. 31, 2018.

Listener mail:

David Mikkelson, "Letter Exchange Between Law Firm and Cleveland Browns," Snopes, Jan. 19, 2011.

Casey C. Sullivan, "Is This the Best Legal Response Letter Ever?" FindLaw, Aug. 2, 2016.

David Seideman, "Lady Struck Twice by Foul Balls Hit by Phillies' Richie Ashburn in the Same at Bat," Forbes, Sept. 21, 2017.

David Donovan, "Litigant Cries Foul Over Court's Baseball Rule," North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, Jan. 8, 2021.

"1955 Le Mans Disaster," Wikipedia (accessed March 11, 2021).

"Race Car at Le Mans Crashes Into Spectators, Killing 82," History.com, June 9, 2020.

"When Riders Attack: Memorable Scuffles From Recent Cycling History," Cyclingnews, March 20, 2020.

"Froome's Spectator Punch: How Does It Stack Up?" VeloNews (accessed March 13, 2021).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Saphia Fleury. 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 22, 2021
335-Transporting Obelisks
32:14

In the 19th century, France, England, and the United States each set out to bring home an Egyptian obelisk. But each obelisk weighed hundreds of tons, and the techniques of moving them had long been forgotten. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow the struggles of each nation to transport these massive monoliths using the technology of the 1800s.

We'll also go on an Australian quest and puzzle over a cooling fire.

Intro:

Science fiction writer Albert Robida proposed a president made of wood.

Norway's flag incorporates those of six other nations.

Sources for our feature on the Egyptian obelisks:

Bob Brier, Cleopatra's Needles: The Lost Obelisks of Egypt, 2016.

Martina D'Alton, The New York Obelisk, or, How Cleopatra's Needle Came to New York and What Happened When It Got Here, 1993.

Charles Edward Moldenke, The New York Obelisk, Cleopatra's Needle: With a Preliminary Sketch of the History, Erection, Uses, and Signification of Obelisks, 1891.

Henry Honeychurch Gorringe, Egyptian Obelisks, 1885.

Erasmus Wilson, Cleopatra's Needle: With Brief Notes on Egypt and Egyptian Obelisks, 1877.

Bob Brier, "The Secret Life of the Paris Obelisk," Aegyptiaca: Journal of the History of Reception of Ancient Egypt 2 (2018), 75-91.

Henry Petroski, "Engineering: Moving Obelisks," American Scientist 99:6 (November–December 2011), 448-452.

Bob Brier, "Saga of Cleopatra's Needles," Archaeology 55:6 (November/December 2002), 48-54.

P.W. Copeman, "Cleopatra's Needle: Dermatology's Weightiest Achievement," British Medical Journal 1:6106 (1978), 154-155.

"Machinery for Moving Cleopatra's Needle," Scientific American 41:21 (Nov. 22, 1879), 322.

"Landing of Cleopatra's Needle," Scientific American 39:4 (July 27, 1878), 55.

"Cleopatra's Needle," Scientific American 36:14 (April 7, 1877), 215-216.

Paul Brown, "Weatherwatch: The Perilous Sea Journey of Cleopatra's Needle," Guardian, April 8, 2020.

Marguerite Oliver, "Cleopatra's Needle: Egypt's Gift to England," Los Angeles Times, Sept. 20, 1987.

Cyrus W. Bell, "How They Took Cleopatra's Needle Down the Nile and by Sea to London," Toronto Star, Nov. 9, 1985.

"Now It Can Be Told; After 60 Years, Cleopatra's Needle Identifies Itself," New York Times, March 7, 1941.

"Cleopatra's Needle in London," New York Times, April 17, 1932.

"Obelisk Located in Central Park," New Britain [Conn.] Herald, Dec. 5, 1928.

Eli Benedict, "Cleopatra's Needle: Central Park Obelisk Is More Than 3,000 Years Old," New York Times, May 14, 1914.

"Cleopatra's Needle: How Well It Stands the English Climate," New York Times, June 6, 1890.

"Laying the Corner-Stone; Masons Preparing the Obelisk's Foundation," New York Times, Oct. 10, 1880.

"Hieroglyphics Deciphered," New York Times, Aug. 19, 1878.

"The Inscriptions on Cleopatra's Needle," New York Times, July 25, 1878.

"Raising the Cleopatra's Needle," New York Times, June 30, 1878.

"Cleopatra's Needle," Times, Feb. 16, 1878.

"Cleopatra's Needle," Graphic, Feb. 2, 1878.

"Cleopatra's Needle," Liverpool Mercury, Oct. 22, 1877.

"The Derelict Obelisk," New York Times, Oct. 19, 1877.

"Cleopatra's Needle," [London] Standard, Oct. 19, 1877.

"Cleopatra's Needle: Loss of the Obelisk Off Cape Finistere a Heavy Gale in Which the Steamer Lost Six Men in Rescuing the Crew From the Craft," New York Times, Oct. 18, 1877.

"Cleopatra's Needle in London," New York Times, Sept. 16, 1877.

"Cleopatra's Needle," Birmingham Daily Post, April 22, 1876.

"How Cleopatra's Needle Is to Be Moved," New York Times, Aug. 1, 1875.

"Cleopatra's Needle," New York Times, June 6, 1875.

"Cleopatra's Needle," Illustrated London News, June 21, 1851.

Listener mail:

invaluable.disclaimer.biographer on What3words.

"France Passes 'Sensory Heritage' Law After Plight of Maurice the Noisy Rooster," Guardian, Jan. 21, 2021.

Kristof Van Rompaey, "Buur stapt naar vrederechter voor haan die dagelijks 'meer dan 3.000 keer' kraait: 'Ben wegdoen zou een klap zijn voor onze kinderen'," Gazet van Antwerpen, June 30, 2020.

"The Gregorian Reform of the Calendar," Encyclopedia.com (accessed Mar. 6, 2021).

"Gregorian Calendar," Encyclopaedia Britannica (accessed March 6, 2021).

"Gregorian Calendar," Wikipedia (accessed Mar. 6, 2021).

"Adoption of the Gregorian Calendar," Wikipedia (accessed Mar. 6, 2021).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Tristan Shephard.

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 15, 2021
334-Eugene Bullard
33:18

Eugene Bullard ran away from home in 1907 to seek his fortune in a more racially accepting Europe. There he led a life of staggering accomplishment, becoming by turns a prizefighter, a combat pilot, a nightclub impresario, and a spy. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell Bullard's impressive story, which won him resounding praise in his adopted France.

We'll also accidentally go to Canada and puzzle over a deadly omission.

Intro:

The melody of Peter Cornelius' "Ein Ton" is a single repeated note.

Thomas Edison proposed the word hello to begin telephone conversations.

Sources for our feature on Eugene Bullard:

Tom Clavin and Phil Keith, All Blood Runs Red: The Legendary Life of Eugene Bullard -- Boxer, Pilot, Soldier, Spy, 2019.

Gail Buckley, American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military From the Revolution to Desert Storm, 2001.

Jonathan Sutherland, African Americans at War: An Encyclopedia, 2004.

Alexander M. Bielakowski, Ethnic and Racial Minorities in the U.S. Military, 2013.

Edmund L. Gros, "The Members of Lafayette Flying Corps," Flying 6:9 (October 1917), 776-778.

James Norman Hall and Charles Bernhard Nordhoff, The Lafayette Flying Corps, 1920.

John H. Wilson, "'All Blood Runs Red,'" Aviation History 17:4 (March 2007), 13-15.

Brendan Manley, "France Commemorates WWI Lafayette Escadrille," Military History 33:3 (Sept. 2016), 8.

Rachel Gillett, "Jazz and the Evolution of Black American Cosmopolitanism in Interwar Paris," Journal of World History 21:3 (September 2010), 471-495.

Thabiti Asukile, "J.A. Rogers' 'Jazz at Home': Afro-American Jazz in Paris During the Jazz Age," The Black Scholar 40:3 (Fall 2010), 22-35.

Tyler Stovall, "Strangers on the Seine: Immigration in Modern Paris," Journal of Urban History 39:4 (June 14, 2013), 807-813.

Nicholas Hewitt, "Black Montmartre: American Jazz and Music Hall in Paris in the Interwar Years," Journal of Romance Studies 5:3 (Winter 2005), 25-31.

Frederic J. Svoboda, "Who Was That Black Man?: A Note on Eugene Bullard and The Sun Also Rises," Hemingway Review 17:2 (Spring 1998), 105-110.

"Air Force Honors Pioneering Pilot," Military History 36:6 (March 2020), 10.

Ann Fotheringham, "Eugene Bullard," [Glasgow] Evening Times, June 8, 2020.

Jeremy Redmon, "AJC Local In-Depth Georgia Hero," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Oct. 10, 2019.

Jeremy Redmon, "Only in the AJC: Georgia Hero," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Oct. 7, 2019.

Herb Boyd, "First Black Fighter Pilot, Eugene Bullard," New York Amsterdam News, Aug. 29, 2019.

Janine Di Giovanni, "The Yanks Who Chose to Stay," [London] Evening Standard, March 23, 2009.

Fred L. Borch and Robert F. Dorr, "Expatriate Boxer Was First Black American Combat Pilot," Air Force Times, Feb. 23, 2009.

Brad Barnes, "'Flyboys' Uses Eugene Bullard as Model for Character," McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Sept. 22, 2006.

Sherri M. Owens, "1st Black Combat Pilot: He Flew for Freedom," Orlando Sentinel, July 29, 2001.

Michael Kilian, "Smithsonian to Honor First Black Combat Pilot," Chicago Tribune, Oct. 11, 1992, 6.

"Exhibition Traces Role of Blacks in Aviation," New York Times, Sept. 26, 1982.

"Eugene Bullard, Ex-Pilot, Dead; American Flew for French in '18," New York Times, Oct. 14, 1961.

Dominick Pisano, "Eugene J. Bullard," Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Oct. 12, 2010.

Robert Vanderpool, "African-American History Month: Eugene Bullard -- The First African-American Military Pilot," Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Feb. 29, 2016.

Cori Brosnahan, "The Two Lives of Eugene Bullard," American Experience, PBS, April 3, 2017.

Caroline M. Fannin, "Bullard, Eugène Jacques," American National Biography, October 2002.

Listener mail:

"A Tale of Two Sydneys: Dutch Teen Tries to Visit Australia, but Ends Up in Nova Scotia," CBC, March 30, 2017.

Ashifa Kassam, "Land Down Blunder: Teen Heading to Australia Lands in Sydney, Nova Scotia," Guardian, March 31, 2017.

"Italian Tourists End Up in Wrong Sydney," CBC, July 7, 2010.

"Oops. British Couple Flies to Canada by Mistake," CBC News, Aug. 6, 2002.

"No Kangaroos. But Can We Interest You in a Fiddle?" CBC News, Sept. 19, 2008.

"What Is the Most Common City/Town Name in the United States?" U.S. Geological Survey (accessed Feb. 27, 2021).

Robert C. Adams, On Board the "Rocket," 1879.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle is taken from Anges Rogers' 1953 book How Come?: A Book of Riddles, sent to us by listener Jon Jerome.

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 08, 2021
333-Stranded in the Kimberley
33:00

Crossing the world in 1932, two German airmen ran out of fuel in a remote region of northwestern Australia. With no food and little water, they struggled to find their way to safety while rescuers fought to locate them. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the airmen's ordeal, a dramatic story of perseverance and chance.

We'll also survey some escalators and puzzle over a consequential crash.

Intro:

Winston Churchill had a confusing namesake in the United States.

Shelley's friend Horace Smith wrote a competing version of "Ozymandias."

Sources for our feature on the 1932 Kimberley rescue:

Barbara Winter, Atlantis Is Missing: A Gripping True Story of Survival in the Australian Wilderness, 1979.

Brian H. Hernan, Forgotten Flyer, 2007.

Anthony Redmond, "Tracks and Shadows: Some Social Effects of the 1938 Frobenius Expedition to the North-West Kimberley," in Nicolas Peterson and Anna Kenny, eds., German Ethnography in Australia, 2017, 413-434.

Frank Koehler, "Descriptions of New Species of the Diverse and Endemic Land Snail Amplirhagada Iredale, 1933 From Rainforest Patches Across the Kimberley, Western Australia (Pulmonata, Camaenidae)," Records of the Australian Museum 63:2 (2011), 163-202.

Bridget Judd, "The Unexpected Rescue Mission That Inspired ABC Mini-Series Flight Into Hell -- And Other Survivalists," Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Jan. 16, 2021.

Peter de Kruijff, "Survivalist Retraces Lost Aviators' Trek," Kimberley Echo, Jan. 29, 2018.

Michael Atkinson, "Surviving the Kimberley," Australian Geographic, June 28, 2018.

Erin Parke, "No Food, No Water, No Wi-Fi: Adventurer Tests Skills in One of Australia's Most Remote Places," ABC Premium News, Jan. 29, 2018.

"Forgotten Territory," [Darwin, N.T.] Northern Territory News, Feb. 28, 2016.

Graeme Westlake, "They Accepted Their Saviour's Fish and Ate It Raw," Canberra Times, May 15, 1982.

"German Fliers Got Lost in Our Nor-West," [Perth] Mirror, June 2, 1956.

"37 Days in a Torture Chamber," [Adelaide] News, April 21, 1954.

"Air Passenger," [Grafton, N.S.W.] Examiner, July 18, 1938.

"Hans Bertram," Sydney Morning Herald, July 16, 1938.

"Aviation: Pilot Bertram," [Charters Towers, Qld.] Northern Miner, April 20, 1933.

"Bertram Lands at Crawley," [Perth] Daily News, Sept. 24, 1932.

"Bertram's Marooned 'Plane," Singleton [N.S.W.] Argus, Sept. 21, 1932.

"Captain Bertram," Sydney Morning Herald, Sept. 20, 1932.

"Fully Recovered," Sydney Morning Herald, Aug. 6, 1932.

"The Search for the German Airmen," [Perth] Western Mail, July 21, 1932.

"The German Airmen," Albany [W.A.] Advertiser, July 7, 1932.

"Death Cheated," Cincinnati Enquirer, July 5, 1932.

"Lost German Fliers," [Adelaide] Chronicle, June 30, 1932.

"Search for Hans Bertram," [Carnarvon, W.A.] Northern Times, June 16, 1932.

"Strangers on the Shore: Shipwreck Survivors and Their Contact With Aboriginal Groups in Western Australia 1628-1956," Department of Maritime Archaeology, Western Australian Maritime Museum, 1998.

Listener mail:

"Escalator Etiquette," Wikipedia (accessed Feb. 8, 2021).

Brian Ashcraft, "It's Hard For Japan to Change Its Escalator Manners," Kotaku, June 20, 2019.

Jack Malvern, "Mystery Over Tube Escalator Etiquette Cleared Up by Restored Film," Times, Oct. 21, 2009.

Laura Reynolds, "11 Secrets of Harrods," Londonist (accessed Feb. 14, 2021).

Adam Taylor, "A Japanese Campaign Wants to Rewrite the Global Rules of Escalator Etiquette," Washington Post, Aug. 26, 2015.

Linda Poon, "Tokyo Wants People to Stand on Both Sides of the Escalator," Bloomberg City Lab, Dec. 20, 2018.

Johan Gaume and Alexander M. Puzrin, "Mechanisms of Slab Avalanche Release and Impact in the Dyatlov Pass Incident in 1959," Communications Earth & Environment 2:10 (Jan. 28, 2021), 1-11.

Robin George Andrews, "Has Science Solved One of History's Greatest Adventure Mysteries?", National Geographic, Jan. 28, 2021.

Nature Video, "Explaining the Icy Mystery of the Dyatlov Pass Deaths" (video), Jan. 28, 2021.

New Scientist, "The Dyatlov Pass incident, which saw nine Russian mountaineers die in mysterious circumstances in 1959, has been the subject of many conspiracy theories. Now researchers say an unusual avalanche was to blame," Twitter, Jan. 28, 2021.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Alex Baumans. 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!

Feb 22, 2021
332-Princess Caraboo
30:03

In 1817 a young woman appeared in the English village of Almondsbury, speaking a strange language and seeking food and shelter. She revealed herself to be an Eastern princess, kidnapped by pirates from an exotic island. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of Princess Caraboo, who was both more and less than she seemed.

We'll also discover a June Christmas and puzzle over some monster soup.

Intro:

In 1988, Martine Tischer proposed wrapping gifts in uncut U.S. currency.

In 1948, Ralph Alpher, Hans Bethe, and George Gamow seized the chance of an immortal byline.

Sources for our feature on Princess Caraboo:

John Matthew Gutch, Caraboo: A Narrative of a Singular Imposition, 1817.

Sabine Baring-Gould, Devonshire Characters and Strange Events, 1908.

Anonymous, Carraboo, Carraboo: The Singular Adventures of Mary Baker, Alias Princess of Javasu, 1817.

John Timbs, English Eccentrics and Eccentricities, 1877.

C.L. McCluer Stevens, Famous Crimes and Criminals, 1924.

J.P. Jewett, Remarkable Women of Different Nations and Ages, 1858.

The Lives and Portraits of Curious and Odd Characters, 1852.

Mrs. John Farrar, Recollections of Seventy Years, 1869.

Margaret Russett, "The 'Caraboo' Hoax: Romantic Woman as Mirror and Mirage," Discourse 17:2 (Winter 1994-1995), 26-47.

Michael Keevak, "A World of Impostures," Eighteenth Century 53:2 (Summer 2012), 233-235.

Shompa Lahiri, "Performing Identity: Colonial Migrants, Passing and Mimicry Between the Wars," Cultural Geographies 10:4 (October 2003), 408-423.

"Top 10 Imposters," Time, May 26, 2009.

"Local Legends: Bristol's Princess Caraboo," BBC (accessed Jan. 31, 2021).

Corrie Bond-French, "The Tale of a Mysterious Princess," Gloucestershire Echo, June 7, 2018.

"Story of Exotic Beauty Still Fascinates Us Today," Mid-Devon Gazette, May 3, 2016, 21.

Nazar Iene Daan Kannibelle, "Servant Girl Hoaxed All Great Britain by Pose as Princess," Washington Times, November 6, 1921.

"A Singular Imposture," Strand 9:52 (April 1895), 451-456.

"The Pretended Princess Caraboo," Gloucestershire Notes and Queries 35 (July 1887), 627-629.

"The Princess Caraboo," Curiosities of Bristol and Its Neighbourhood 7 (March 1884), 48.

"Caraboo," Notes and Queries, June 3, 1865, 447.

F.W. Fairholt, "The Curiosities of Eccentric Biography," Bentley's Miscellany 69 (Jan. 1, 1851), 180-193.

"Princess Caraboo," Museum of Hoaxes (accessed Jan. 31, 2021).

John Wells, "Baker [née Willcocks], Mary [alias Princess Caraboo]," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept. 1, 2017.

Listener mail:

Wills Robinson, "For Once, a Good Excuse for Bad Handwriting: One of Admiral Nelson's First Letters Written Left-Handed After He Lost His Right Arm in Battle Is Unearthed," Daily Mail, Feb. 16, 2014.

"Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson," Wikipedia (accessed Feb. 5, 2021).

Maev Kennedy, "Nelson's Right and Left Hand: Wellcome Exhibit Reveals How Past Leaves Its Mark," Guardian, Nov. 24, 2010.

"Peter Butterworth," Wikipedia (accessed Feb. 6, 2021).

Lucy Thornton and Mark Branagan, "Carry On's Peter Butterworth Rejected to Play Himself in Role Because He Was 'Too Fat'," Mirror, Aug. 16, 2020.

"Stray Cat With Shocking Facial Growth Rescued," Catcuddles, Aug. 10, 2020.

Rae Gellel, "Catcuddles Cat Hodge to Follow in Doorkins Magnificat's Paw Prints," Catcuddles, Dec. 6, 2020.

Andrew Nunn, "Welcome to Hodge by the Dean of Southwark," Southwark Cathedral (accessed Feb. 6, 2021).

Jane Steen, "Southwark and Hodge and Dr Johnson," Southwark Cathedral (accessed Feb. 6, 2021).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Lucie. 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 15, 2021
331-The Starvation Doctor
31:39

In 1911 English sisters Claire and Dora Williamson began consulting a Seattle "fasting specialist" named Linda Burfield Hazzard. As they underwent her brutal treatments, the sisters found themselves caught in a web of manipulation and deceit. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Williamsons' ordeal and the scheme it brought to light.

We'll also catch a criminal by the ear and puzzle over a prohibited pig.

Intro:

During World War II, the United States circulated specially printed currency in Hawaii.

Reversing an artwork in a mirror alters its aesthetic effect.

Sources for our feature on Linda Burfield Hazzard:

Gregg Olsen, Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest, 1997.

Linda Burfield Hazzard, Fasting for the Cure of Disease, 1908.

Linda Burfield Hazzard, Scientific Fasting: The Ancient and Modern Key to Health, 1927.

Steven Chermak and Frankie Y. Bailey, Crimes of the Centuries: Notorious Crimes, Criminals, and Criminal Trials in American History, 2016.

Teresa Nordheim, Murder & Mayhem in Seattle, 2016.

Bess Lovejoy, "The Doctor Who Starved Her Patients to Death," smithsonianmag.com, Oct. 28, 2014.

Terence Hines, "A Gripping Story of Quackery and Death," Skeptical Inquirer 21:6 (November-December 1997), 55.

Dorothy Grant, "Look Back Doctor," Medical Post 40:16 (April 20, 2004), 28.

"The Hazzard Murder Trial," Northwest Medicine 4:3 (March 1912), 92.

"Dr. Linda Hazzard Is Given Pardon," Oregon Daily Journal, June 4, 1916.

"Woman Fast Doctor Released on Parole," Oakland [Calif.] Tribune, Dec. 21, 1915.

"Glad She Is Going Says Mrs. Linda Hazzard," Tacoma [Wash.] Times, Jan. 6, 1914.

"Starved to Death," [Sydney] Globe Pictorial, Feb. 14, 1914.

"Dr. Linda Hazzard Must Serve Term in the Penitentiary," Seattle Star, Dec. 24, 1913.

"Mrs. Linda Hazzard Must Go to Prison According to Supreme Court Ruling," Tacoma [Wash.] Times, Aug. 13, 1913.

"Sister Describes Treatment," Washburn [N.D.] Leader, Jan. 26, 1912.

"'Starvation Cure' Victim on the Stand," Wichita [Kan.] Daily Eagle, Jan. 21, 1912.

"Tells How Mrs. Hazzard Treated Them at Ollala," Tacoma [Wash.] Times, Jan. 20, 1912.

"Blames Doctors' Jealousy," New York Times, Aug. 7, 1911.

"Starvation Cure Fatal," New York Times, Aug. 6, 1911.

"Investigate Woman Doctor," New York Times, July 31, 1911.

"The State of Washington, Respondent, v. Linda Burfield Hazzard, Appellant," Washington Reports, Volume 75: Cases Determined in the Supreme Court of Washington, August 12, 1913 - October 9, 1913, 1914.

"Linda Burfield Hazzard: Healer or Murderess?", Washington State Archives, Digital Archives (accessed Jan. 24, 2021).

Listener mail:

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling, "United States of Climate Change: Missouri Under Water," Weather Channel, Nov. 9, 2017.

"German Police Identify Burglar by His Earprints," Spiegel International, April 30, 2012.

"Ear Print Analysis," Wikipedia, accessed Jan. 28, 2021.

"Ear Print Analysis," Encyclopedia.com (accessed Jan. 28, 2021).

Ayman Abaza et al., "A Survey on Ear Biometrics," ACM Computing Surveys, March 2013.

Mit Katwala, "The Bonkers Plan to Foil Password Thieves Using Your Mouth," Wired, Dec. 13, 2020.

Boxcar Willie, "Luther" (video), Jan. 30, 2012.

"Luther," International Lyrics Playground (accessed Jan. 31, 2021).

"Boxcar Willie," Wikipedia (accessed Jan. 31, 2021).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listeners Paul Schoeps and Stuart Baker. Stuart sent this corroborating link, and Sharon found this related, gratuitously horrifying incident.

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 08, 2021
330-The Abernathy Boys
33:23

In 1909, Oklahoma brothers Bud and Temple Abernathy rode alone to New Mexico and back, though they were just 9 and 5 years old. In the years that followed they would become famous for cross-country trips totaling 10,000 miles. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll trace the journeys of the Abernathy brothers across a rapidly evolving nation.

We'll also try to figure out whether we're in Belgium or the Netherlands and puzzle over an outstretched hand.

Intro:

Lytton Strachey's uncle William observed Calcutta time in England.

John Dryden displayed a discerning discrimination in an impromptu poetry competition.

Sources for our feature on Louis and Temple Abernathy:

Alta Abernathy, Bud & Me: The True Adventures of the Abernathy Boys, 1998.

Miles Abernathy, The Ride of the Abernathy Boys, 1911.

John R. Abernathy, "Catch 'em Alive Jack": The Life and Adventures of an American Pioneer, 2006.

Brian Spangle, Hidden History of Vincennes & Knox County, 2020.

M.J. Alexander, "The Astounding Adventures of the Abernathy Boys," 405 Magazine, Aug. 25, 2015.

"Abernathy Kids on Tour," Motorcycle Illustrated (May 29, 1930), 53.

"Enterprising Boys," Advance 62:2392 (Sept. 7, 1911), 25.

"Champion Company Films Abernathy Boys," Nickelodeon 4:2 (July 15, 1910), 42.

Eliza McGraw, "Ultimate Free-Range Kids: Two Boys, 6 and 10, Rode Horses to New York — From Oklahoma," Washington Post, Oct. 19, 2019.

John Governale, "What I've Learned/The Abernathy Boys," [Lewiston, Me.] Sun Journal, Aug. 15, 2019.

Becky Orr, "Teachers Retrace Young Boys' Trek Across America," Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Aug. 19, 2008.

"Boy Rough Riders," [Parkes, N.S.W.] Western Champion, Sept. 18, 1913.

"Abernathy Boys Tell Taft Their Troubles," Washington Times, Nov. 13, 1911.

"Boy Rides 2300 Miles," Gundagai [N.S.W.] Times, Sept. 2, 1910.

"Abernathy Boys Nearing Home," New York Times, July 26, 1910.

"Abernathy Lads See Mayor," New York Times, June 14, 1910.

"Abernathys Reach Goal," Lebanon [Pa.] Courier and Semi-Weekly Report, June 14, 1910.

"Rockefeller Pew for Abernathy Boys," New York Times, June 13, 1910.

"Abernathy Boys Put Ban on Kissing," New York Times, June 12, 1910.

"Boys Complete 2,000 Mile Trip," Pensacola [Fla.] Journal, June 12, 1910.

"Boy Riders in Delaware," New York Times, June 10, 1910.

"'Hello, Dad!' Call Abernathy's Boys," New York Times, June 9, 1910.

"Boy Horsemen on Way Here," New York Times, June 7, 1910.

"Boy Riders Arrived at National Capitol," Bismarck [N.D.] Daily Tribune, May 28, 1910.

"Boys to Meet Roosevelt," [Mont.] Daily Missoulian, May 22, 1910.

"Abernathy Boys' Long Trip," New York Times, July 11, 1909.

Listener mail:

Two-side letter from John Hornby to Matt Murphy of Peace River, Alberta, 1925. "John Hornby: Letters & Articles," NWT Exhibits (accessed Jan. 23, 2021).

Robin Weber, "Staff Pick: John Hornby, Introduction," NWT Exhibits (accessed Jan. 23, 2021).

"Baarle-Nassau," Wikipedia (accessed Jan. 23, 2020).

Graphic of Baarle and its enclaves in the Netherlands.

Tesa Arcilla, "Dutch? Belgian? How Lockdown Works in a Town With One of the World's Most Complex Borders," NBC News, May 24, 2020.

Andrew Eames, "Europe's Strange Border Anomaly," BBC, Dec. 11, 2017.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Åke Malmgren. Last year it was nominated for puzzle of the year on lateralpuzzles.com.

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 01, 2021
329-The Cock Lane Ghost
30:47

In 1759, ghostly rappings started up in the house of a parish clerk in London. In the months that followed they would incite a scandal against one man, an accusation from beyond the grave. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Cock Lane ghost, an enduring portrait of superstition and justice.

We'll also see what you can get hit with at a sporting event and puzzle over some portentous soccer fields.

Intro:

In 1967 British artists Terry Atkinson and Michael Baldwin offered a map that charts its own area.

In 1904 Henry Hayes suggested adding fake horses to real cars to avoid frightening real horses.

Sources for our feature on the Cock Lane ghost:

Douglas Grant, The Cock Lane Ghost, 1965.

Oliver Goldsmith, "The Mystery Revealed," in The Works of Oliver Goldsmith, Volume 4, 1854.

James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., Volume 1, 1791.

Charles MacKay, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, 1852.

Andrew Lang, Cock Lane and Common-Sense, 1894.

Roger Clarke, A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof, 2012.

Henry Addington Bruce, Historic Ghosts and Ghost Hunters, 1908.

Jennifer Bann, "Ghostly Hands and Ghostly Agency: The Changing Figure of the Nineteenth-Century Specter," Victorian Studies 51:4 (Summer 2009), 663-685, 775.

Gillian Bennett, "'Alas, Poor Ghost!': Case Studies in the History of Ghosts and Visitations," in Alas Poor Ghost, 1999, 139-172.

Richard Whittington-Egan, "The Accusant Ghost of Cock Lane," New Law Journal 141:6487 (Jan. 18 1991), 74.

Howard Pyle, "The Cock Lane Ghost," Harper's New Monthly Magazine 87:519 (August 1893), 327-338.

María Losada Friend, "Ghosts or Frauds? Oliver Goldsmith and 'The Mystery Revealed,'" Eighteenth-Century Ireland / Iris an dá chultúr 13 (1998), 159-165.

H. Addington Bruce, "The Cock Lane Ghost," New York Tribune, July 14, 1907.

"The Cock Lane Ghost," Warwick [Queensland] Argus, Dec. 22, 1900.

"The Ghosts of London," New York Times, Sept. 10, 1900.

"The Cock-Lane Ghost," [Sydney] Evening News, Aug. 25, 1894.

"The Cock Lane Ghost," Maitland [N.S.W.] Weekly Mercury, March 10, 1894.

"The Rochester Ghost," Alexandria [Va.] Gazette, April 27, 1850.

Thomas Seccombe, "Parsons, Elizabeth [called the Cock Lane Ghost], (1749–1807)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept. 23, 2004.

Listener mail:

"Death of Brittanie Cecil," Wikipedia (accessed Jan. 13, 2021).

L. Jon Wertheim, "How She Died," Sports Illustrated, April 1, 2002.

J. Winslow and A. Goldstein, "Spectator Risks at Sporting Events," Internet Journal of Law, Healthcare and Ethics 4:2 (2006).

Steve Rosenbloom, "Hit by Puck, Girl Dies," Chicago Tribune, March 20, 2002.

Tarik El-Bashir, "Girl Struck Puck Dies," Washington Post, March 20, 2002.

Connor Read et al., "Spectator Injuries in Sports," Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 59:3 (March 2019), 520-523.

Bob Shepard, "Heads Up: UAB Does First-Ever Study of Spectator Injuries at Sporting Events," University Wire, Nov. 29, 2018.

"Father of Girl Killed by His Errant Golf Ball Says: 'How It Happened, I Cannot Explain'," Associated Press, Sept. 21, 2019.

Pat Ralph, "What Happens After 'Fore'? Injured Fans Face Legal Hurdles in Golf-Ball Lawsuits," Golf.com, Oct. 9, 2018.

Marjorie Hunter, "Ford, Teeing Off Like Agnew, Hits Spectator in Head With Golf Ball," New York Times, June 25, 1974.

"'First Off the Tee': White House Golf Tales," NPR, May 1, 2003.

Todd S. Purdum, "Caution: Presidents at Play. Three of Them," New York Times, Feb. 16, 1995.

"Ford, Bush Tee Off on Golf Spectators," Los Angeles Daily News, Feb. 16, 1995.

Kevin Underhill, "Missouri Supreme Court Hears Hot-Dog-Flinging Case," Lowering the Bar, Nov. 13, 2013.

Kevin Underhill, "Bad News for Dog-Flinging Mascots," Lowering the Bar, Jan. 16, 2013.

Kevin Underhill, "Jury Clears Mascot in Hot-Dog-Flinging Case," Lowering the Bar, June 24, 2015.

Listener Tim Ellis, his daughter, and an errant puck.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Jesse Onland. 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 25, 2021
328-A Canine Prisoner of War
30:47

In 1944, British captives of the Japanese in Sumatra drew morale from an unlikely source: a purebred English pointer who cheered the men, challenged the guards, and served as a model of patient fortitude. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of Judy, the canine POW of World War II.

We'll also consider the frequency of different birthdays and puzzle over a little sun.

Intro:

Sherlock Holmes wrote 20 monographs.

In 1863, Charles Dickens' hall clock stopped sounding.

Sources for our feature on Judy:

Robert Weintraub, No Better Friend: One Man, One Dog, and Their Incredible Story of Courage and Survival in World War II, 2016.

S.L. Hoffman, "Judy: The Unforgettable Story of the Dog Who Went to War and Became a True Hero," Military History 32:1 (May 2015), 72-72.

Rebecca Frankel, "Dogs at War: Judy, Canine Prisoner of War," National Geographic, May 18, 2014.

Robert Weintraub, "The True Story of Judy, the Dog Who Inspired Her Fellow Prisoners of War to Survive," Irish Times, June 2, 2015.

Jane Dalton, "Judy, the Life-Saving PoW Who Beat the Japanese," Sunday Telegraph, May 31, 2015.

"Heroine Dog's Medal Goes on Display," [Cardiff] Western Mail, Aug. 26, 2006.

"Medal Awarded to Dog Prisoner of War Goes on Public Display," Yorkshire Post, Aug. 23, 2006.

Amber Turnau, "The Incredible Tale of Frank Williams," Burnaby [B.C.] Now, March 19, 2003.

Nicholas Read, "Prison Camp Heroine Judy Was History's Only Bow-Wow PoW," Vancouver Sun, March 12, 2003.

"London Salutes Animal Veterans," Charlotte Observer, May 28, 1983.

Frank G. Williams, "The Dog That Went to War," Vancouver Sun, April 6, 1974.

"Judy, Dog VC, Dies," [Montreal] Gazette, March 23, 1950.

"Judy, British War Dog, Dies; to Get Memorial," [Wilmington, Del.] Morning News, March 21, 1950.

"The Tale of a V.C. Dog," [Adelaide] Chronicle, Jan. 30, 1947.

"Judy to Receive Dogs' V.C.," The Age, May 2, 1946.

"Judy: The Dog Who Became a Prisoner of War," gov.uk, July 24, 2015.

"Prisoner of War Dog Judy -- PDSA Dickin Medal and Collar to Be Presented to the Imperial War Museum," People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, Aug. 21, 2006.

"PDSA Dickin Medal Stories: Judy," PDSA Schools (accessed Jan. 3, 2021).

Listener mail:

Andrew Gelman et al., "Bayesian Data Analysis (Third Edition)," 1995-2020.

"Keynote: Andrew Gelman - Data Science Workflow" (video), Dec. 21, 2017.

Becca R. Levy, Pil H. Chung, and Martin D. Slade, "Influence of Valentine's Day and Halloween on Birth Timing," Social Science & Medicine 73:8 (2011), 1246-1248.

"Tony Meléndez," Wikipedia (accessed Dec. 24, 2020).

"Thalidomide," Wikipedia (accessed Jan. 9, 2020).

Neil Vargesson, "Thalidomide-Induced Teratogenesis: History and Mechanisms," Birth Defects Research Part C: Embryo Today: Reviews 105:2 (2015), 140-156.

"Biography," tonymelendez.com (accessed Jan. 10, 2021).

"Tony Melendez Sings for Pope John Paul II - 1987" (video), Heart of the Nation, Sept. 27, 2016.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Lucie. 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 18, 2021
327-The Misplaced Tourist
29:19

In 1977, West German tourist Erwin Kreuz spent three days enjoying the sights, sounds, and hospitality of Bangor, Maine. Unfortunately, he thought he was in San Francisco, on the other side of the continent. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast, we'll describe Kreuz's unlikely adventure, which made him a local hero in his adopted city.

We'll also consider an invisible killer and puzzle over a momentous measurement.

Intro:

In 1712, Sweden observed a February 30.

In 1898, J.W. Dunne dreamed correctly that his watch had stopped.

Sources for our feature on Erwin Kreuz:

Geoffrey Wolff, The Edge of Maine, 2011.

William Langewiesche, "Reporting Points," Flying Magazine 102:1 (January 1978), 29-32.

Joseph Owen, "On This Date in Maine History: Oct. 20," Portland [Me.] Press Herald, Oct. 20, 2020.

Emily Burnham, "The Story of How a German Tourist Ended Up Mistaking Bangor for San Francisco," Bangor Daily News, Oct. 17, 2020.

Kent Ward, "A Feel-Good Story From the Archives," Bangor Daily News, Dec. 4, 2009.

Sara Kehaulani Goo, "Bangor Is Used to Surprise Landings," Washington Post, Oct. 17, 2004.

Joshua Weinstein, "Bangor International Familiar With Hosting Unexpected Guests," Portland [Me.] Press Herald, Sept. 23, 2004.

Tom Weber, "Mall Man," Bangor Daily News, Oct. 18, 1997.

John S. Day, "City of Bangor Urged to Hold Fire on I-Man," Bangor Daily News, July 26, 1997.

Kim Strosnider, "An Accidental Tourist Put Bangor on Map," Portland [Me.] Press Herald, July 7, 1996.

Richard Haitch, "Follow-Up on the News: California in Maine," New York Times, July 15, 1984.

Ed Lion, "A Look Back at the Saga of Erwin Kreuz," United Press International, July 8, 1984.

"New England News Briefs; Payments Never Late From W. Germany," Boston Globe, July 4, 1984.

"Wrong-Way German Tourist Still Paying Maine Taxes," United Press International, July 3, 1984.

Maureen Williams, "Future in Bangor Pales, Erwin Kreuz Returns to Germany," Bangor Daily News, March 16, 1979.

"Superstar Attractions to Highlight Bangor Mall's Supergrand Opening," Bangor Daily News, Oct. 4, 1978.

"Instant Celebrity to Revisit Bangor," Associated Press, Sept. 18, 1978.

"German Tourist Misses Maine," United Press International, Sept. 15, 1978.

"Bangor, Me., Family in Temporary Limelight," New York Times, Feb. 18, 1978.

Jeanne Bolstridge, "Not Political," Bangor Daily News, Nov. 15, 1977.

"So riesig," Der Spiegel, Nov. 7, 1977.

"Lives It Up Wild West Frisco Style," The [Fairfield County, Conn.] Hour, Nov. 1, 1977.

"It's Wong for Kreuz in Frisco," Miami Herald, Nov. 1, 1977.

"Ja, Erwin Kreuz ist ein 'Bangor,'" Minneapolis Star, Nov. 1, 1977.

"People," Chicago Tribune, Nov. 1, 1977.

"Wrong-Way Tourist's Weekend Fit for King," United Press International, Oct. 31, 1977.

"In San Francisco: Lost German Partial to Maine," Quad-City [Iowa] Times, Oct. 30, 1977.

Ted Sylvester, "Andre Tries to Kiss Kreuz," Bangor Daily News, Oct. 28, 1977.

"Famed Figures," [Pittsfield, Mass.] Berkshire Eagle, Oct. 28, 1977.

"San Francisco Paper Lays Red Carpet for Kreuz," Bangor Daily News, Oct. 28, 1977.

"Erwin Kreuz," Bangor Daily News, Oct. 28, 1977.

David Platt, "Column One," Bangor Daily News, Oct. 28, 1977.

"Land for Erwin Kreuz," Bangor Daily News, Oct. 27, 1977.

"That'd Be a Long Taxi Ride," Kingsport [Tenn.] Daily News, Oct. 26, 1977.

"German Tourist Ready to Stay in Maine," Associated Press, Oct. 26, 1977.

"3,000-Mile Error Ends With a Pleasant Visit," United Press International, Oct. 25, 1977.

"Airline Puts Out Call for Errant Passenger," Bangor Daily News, Oct. 21, 1977.

"A Big Mac Blitz," Bangor Daily News, Oct. 21, 1977.

Nancy Remsen, "Golden Gate-Bound German Visits Bangor by Mistake," Bangor Daily News, Oct. 20, 1977.

(Five unheadlined Associated Press wire reports, dated Oct. 29, 1977; Oct. 31, 1977; Sept. 25, 1978; Oct. 4, 1978; and March 19, 1979.)

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Lake Nyos Disaster" (accessed Dec. 29, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Limnic Eruption" (accessed Dec. 29, 2020).

Kevin Krajick, "Defusing Africa's Killer Lakes," smithsonianmag.com, September 2003.

"Falklands Cleared of Landmines Following 1982 Conflict," Forces.net, Nov. 10, 2020.

Matthew Teller, "The Falklands Penguins That Would Not Explode," BBC News, May 6, 2017.

"Japanese Town Deploys Monster Wolf Robots to Deter Bears," Reuters, Nov. 11, 2020.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Nick Claus. 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!

Jan 11, 2021
326-The Recluse of Herald Square
31:13

In 1931, a 93-year-old widow was discovered to be hoarding great wealth in New York's Herald Square Hotel. Her death touched off an inquiry that revealed a glittering past -- and a great secret. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast, we'll tell the story of Ida Wood, which has been called "one of the most sensational inheritance cases in American history."

We'll also revisit the Candy Bomber and puzzle over some excessive travel.

Intro:

Lyndon Johnson's family shared initials.

In 1915, Arthur Guiterman sparred with Arthur Conan Doyle over Sherlock Holmes' antecedents.

Sources for our feature on Ida Wood:

Joseph A. Cox, The Recluse of Herald Square: The Mystery of Ida E. Wood, 1964.

Robert H. Sitkoff and Jesse Dukeminier, Wills, Trusts, and Estates, 10th edition, 2017.

Renee M. Winters, The Hoarding Impulse: Suffocation of the Soul, 2015.

John V. Orth, "'The Laughing Heir': What's So Funny?", Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal 48:2 (Fall 2013), 321-326.

St. Clair McKelway, "Annals of Law: The Rich Recluse of Herald Square," New Yorker, Oct. 24, 1953.

Karen Abbott, "Everything Was Fake but Her Wealth," smithsonianmag.com, Jan. 23, 2013.

Phil Gustafson, "Who'll Pick up the Pieces?", Nation's Business 38:3 (March 1950), 56.

LJ Charleston, "The Story of the Rich New York Socialite Who Hid in a Hotel Room for 24 Years," news.com.au, July 29, 2019.

Frank McNally, "Fascinating Ida," Irish Times, Oct. 17, 2019.

"Hibernian Chronicle: The Mayfield Mystery Solved," Irish Echo, Feb. 17, 2011.

Joseph A. Cox, "She Hid Her Wealth -- And a Strange Past," Australian Women's Weekly, July 6, 1966, 28.

Peter Lyon, "Mrs. Wood's Rubbish Pile," New York Times, Oct. 4, 1964.

"Finds Heirs, Gets $30,000," New York Times, July 2, 1941.

"Meets Ida Wood 'Heirs'," New York Times, March 6, 1938.

"Ida Wood Estate Hearing Dec. 20," New York Times, Nov. 18, 1937.

"Fortune Fight Bares Name Hoax," Associated Press, Sept. 16, 1937.

"406 Claimants Out as Ida Wood Heirs," New York Times, Sept. 1, 1937.

"She Carried a Fortune Around Her Waist," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 5, 1936, 59.

"$92,293 Estate Left by Mrs. F.E. Whistler," New York Times, Dec. 14, 1932.

"Reports Locating Ida Wood's Heirs," Associated Press, Dec. 7, 1932.

"Mrs. Ida Wood Dies at 93 of Pneumonia," New York Times, March 13, 1932.

"Recluse to Seek 'Rest of Money,'" [Washington D.C.] Evening Star, Oct. 14, 1931.

"Old Lady's Kin Vie at Law for Her Fortune," Associated Press, Oct. 13, 1931.

"Benjamin Wood Dead," New-York Tribune, Feb. 22, 1900.

Listener mail:

Cathy Free, "World War II-Era 'Candy Bomber' Turns 100. Those Who Caught His Candy -- Now in Their 80s -- Say Thanks," Washington Post, Oct. 13, 2020.

Lee Benson, "As Utah's Candy Bomber Turns 100, His Sweet Story Remains Timeless," Deseret News, Oct 4, 2020.

"Gov. Gary Herbert Declares October 10th as Gail S. Halvorsen Recognition Day," Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs, Oct. 10, 2020.

Safe-T-Pull.

"Safe-T-Pull™ Pro -- Muddy Sugar Beet Harvest," (video), Safe-T-Pull, Jan. 21, 2014.

"Will cold temperatures damage my refrigerator," Garage Journal, March 2, 2012.

"What to Wear in the Winter Conditions," Hôtel de Glace (accessed Dec. 25, 2020).

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!

Jan 04, 2021
325-Lateral Thinking Puzzles
31:52

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

Intro:

In 1940, the Venezuelan post office was said to deliver love letters at half price.

In 1890 Mark Twain composed a holiday message for the New York World.

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 Agnes Rogers' 1953 book How Come? A Book of Riddles, sent to us by listener Jon Jerome.

Puzzle #2 is from listener Cheryl Jensen, who sent this link.

Puzzle #3 is from listener Neil de Carteret and his cat Nala.

Puzzle #4 is from listener Ananth Viswanathan.

Puzzle #5 is from Dan Lewis' Now I Know e-newsletter. Here are two links.

Puzzle #6 is from Greg. Here's a link.

Puzzle #7 is from Sharon. Here are two links.

Puzzle #8 is from Greg. Here's a 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.

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 28, 2020
324-The Bizarre Death of Alfred Loewenstein
31:53

In 1928, Belgian financier Alfred Loewenstein fell to his death from a private plane over the English Channel. How it happened has never been explained. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast, we'll describe the bizarre incident, which has been called "one of the strangest fatalities in the history of commercial aviation."

We'll also consider whether people can be eaten by pythons and puzzle over an enigmatic horseman.

Intro:

Philosopher Robin Le Poidevin offers a time-travel puzzle concerning an indefinite diary.

In 1946, a quirk of Ohio law seemed to yield contrary outcomes.

Sources for our feature on Alfred Loewenstein:

William Norris, The Man Who Fell From the Sky, 1987.

E. Phillips Oppenheim, Who Travels Alone: The Life and Death of Alfred Loewenstein, 1929.

Judy Ferring, "Before the Skies Were Friendly," American Banker 153:169 (Aug. 30, 1988), 38.

Phoebe-Lou Adams, "The Man Who Fell From the Sky," Atlantic 259:5 (May 1987), 94.

Amy Friedman, "The Chasing of Ghosts," [Kingston, Ont.] Whig-Standard, May 23, 1987.

James Idema, "Solving the Strange Death of the World's Third-Richest Man," Chicago Tribune, May 3, 1987.

William French, "Real Life Mystery Is Finally Solved," Globe and Mail, April 25, 1987.

Daryl Frazell, "A Mystery With No Solution," St. Petersburg Times, May 17, 1987.

"Latest of the Strange Winged Tragedies of the Loewensteins," Detroit Evening Times, June 8, 1941.

"Wealthy Airman Killed," [Melbourne] Argus, April 1, 1941.

"387 Civilians Own Airplanes in State," New York Times, Aug. 17, 1928.

"Result of Autopsy," Canberra Times, July 23, 1928.

"Disappearance Is Still a Mystery," New Britain [Conn.] Herald, July 6, 1928.

"Say He Could Not Open the Door," New Britain [Conn.] Herald, July 6, 1928.

"Loewenstein's Death Shocks All of Europe," [Belvidere, Ill.] Republican-Northwestern, July 6, 1928.

"Third Richest Man Walks Off Plane in Night; Dies in Sea," United Press, July 5, 1928.

"Capt. A. Lowenstein Falls From Plane," Associated Press, July 5, 1928.

"Noted International Financier Disappeared From Plane When on London to Brussels Flight," Ottawa Citizen, July 5, 1928.

"Noted Belgian Magnate Falls Into North Sea," Calgary Herald, July 5, 1928.

"Suicide Hinted in Strange Death of Europe's Croesus," Associated Press, July 5, 1928.

"Loewenstein a Suicide," Windsor Star, July 5, 1928.

"Gem Thieves Who Robbed Alfred Loewenstein, Belgian Croesus, Hunted Here by Paris Police," New York Times, Dec. 19, 1926.

"The Mysterious Death of Flying Millionaire Alfred Loewenstein," Punt PI, BBC Radio 4, July 12, 2014.

"ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 59899," Aviation Safety Network, May 8, 2009.

Listener mail:

Sarah Gibbens, "How This 23-Foot Python Swallowed a Man Whole," National Geographic, March 29, 2017.

"How a Giant Python Swallowed an Indonesian Woman," BBC News, June 18, 2018.

Wikipedia, "Reticulated Python" (accessed Dec. 10, 2020).

Victoria Gillman, "Photo in the News: Python Bursts After Eating Gator (Update)," National Geographic, Sept. 5, 2006.

"Indonesian Man Found Dead in Belly of 7m-Long Python" (video), Jakarta Post, March 29, 2017.

"Missing Man Found Swallowed Whole Inside Snake in Indonesia" (video), On Demand News, Mar 30, 2017.

Mary Beth Griggs, "A Cute Stuffed Dinosaur Hitched a Ride on SpaceX's Historic Launch," The Verge, May 30, 2020.

Loren Grush, "SpaceX Crew-1 Team Harnesses the Force by Bringing Baby Yoda With Them to Space," The Verge, Nov 16, 2020.

Wikipedia, "Sandmännchen" (accessed Dec. 10, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Sigmund Jähn" (accessed Dec. 10, 2020).

Olaf Stampf, "'Capitalism Now Reigns in Space': East German Cosmonaut Sigmund Jähn," Spiegel International, April 12, 2011.

Uwe Seidenfaden, "Als DDR-Pilot Sigmund Jähn ins Weltall flog," volksstimme.de, Aug. 23, 2018.

Tremor, zero-G indicator of SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule (from listener Victoria Sluka).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was devised by Greg, based on Ambrose Bierce's 1888 short story "A Son of the Gods."

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 21, 2020
323-The Blind Traveler
30:06

When a mysterious illness blinded him at age 25, British naval officer James Holman took up a new pursuit: travel. For the next 40 years he roamed the world alone, describing his adventures in a series of popular books. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast, we'll describe Holman's remarkable career and his unique perspective on his experiences.

We'll also remember some separating trains and puzzle over an oddly drawn battle plan.

Intro:

David Tennant's 2008 turn as Hamlet enlisted the skull of composer André Tchaikowsky.

For J.B.S. Haldane's 60th birthday, biologist John Maynard Smith composed an ode to Struthiomimus.

Sources for our feature on James Holman:

Jason Roberts, A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler, 2009.

James Holman, The Narrative of a Journey Through France, etc., 1822.

James Holman, Travels Through Russia, Siberia, etc., 1825.

James Holman, A Voyage Round the World, 1834.

Sarah Bell, "Sensing Nature: Unravelling Metanarratives of Nature and Blindness," in Sarah Atkinson and Rachel Hunt, eds., GeoHumanities and Health, 2020.

Eitan Bar-Yosef, "The 'Deaf Traveller,' the 'Blind Traveller,' and Constructions of Disability in Nineteenth-Century Travel Writing," Victorian Review 35:2 (Fall 2009), 133-154.

Pieter François, "If It's 1815, This Must Be Belgium: The Origins of the Modern Travel Guide," Book History 15 (2012), 71-92.

Joseph Godlewski, "Zones of Entanglement: Nigeria's Real and Imagined Compounds," Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review 28:2 (Spring 2017), 21-33.

Rebe Taylor, "The Polemics of Eating Fish in Tasmania: The Historical Evidence Revisited," Aboriginal History 31 (2007), 1-26.

Mark Paterson, "'Looking on Darkness, Which the Blind Do See': Blindness, Empathy, and Feeling Seeing," Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal 46:3 (September 2013), 159-177.

Keith Nicklin, "A Calabar Chief," Journal of Museum Ethnography 1 (March 1989), 79-84.

Robert S. Fogarty, "Rank the Authors," Antioch Review 65:2 (Spring 2007), 213.

Daniel Kish, "Human Echolocation: How to 'See' Like a Bat," New Scientist 202:2703 (April 11, 2009), 31-33.

Robert Walch, "As He Alone 'Sees' It," America 195:17 (Nov. 27, 2006), 25-26.

Anne McIlroy, "James Holman," CanWest News, Dec. 16, 1992, 1.

Chris Barsanti, "The Blind Traveler," Publishers Weekly 243:18 (May 1, 2006), 46.

Elizabeth Baigent, "Holman, James (1786–1857), traveller," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept. 23, 2004.

My Futility Closet post on echolocator Ben Underwood.

Listener mail:

"The History of the Slip Coach," Ruairidh MacVeigh, June 27, 2020.

"By Slip Coach to Bicester," video of the last slip coach in operation.

Wikipedia, "Slip Coach" (accessed Nov. 25, 2020).

"Slip Coaches," Railway Wonders of the World, June 21, 1935.

"2 Bedroom Restored Slip Coach in Saltash, St Germans, Cornwall, England," One Off Places (accessed Dec. 3, 2020).

From listener Aleksandar Ćirković: The 19:38 train departing the main station at Nuremberg each day splits in four.

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!

Dec 14, 2020
322-Joseph Medicine Crow
30:52

Joseph Medicine Crow was raised on a Montana reservation in the warrior tradition of his Crow forefathers. But during World War II he found himself applying those lessons in very different circumstances. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast, we'll describe Joseph's exploits in the war and how they helped to shape his future.

We'll also consider how to distinguish identical twins and puzzle over a physicist's beer.

Intro:

Two opposing bullets struck one another during the siege of Petersburg.

Which full house is likeliest to win?

Sources for our feature on Joseph Medicine Crow:

Joseph Medicine Crow and Herman J. Viola, Counting Coup: Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond, 2006.

Charles A. Eastman, Living in Two Worlds: The American Indian Experience Illustrated, 2010.

Rick Graetz and Susie Graetz, Crow Country: Montana's Crow Tribe of Indians, 2000.

Joseph Medicine Crow, From the Heart of the Crow Country: The Crow Indians' Own Stories, 2000.

Phillip Thomas Tucker, Death at the Little Bighorn: A New Look at Custer, His Tactics, and the Tragic Decisions Made at the Last Stand, 2017.

Cindy Ott, "Crossing Cultural Fences: The Intersecting Material World of American Indians and Euro-Americans," Western Historical Quarterly 39:4 (Winter 2008), 491-499.

James Welch, "Killing Custer: An Excerpt," Montana: The Magazine of Western History 44:4 (Autumn 1994), 16-27.

"See You Later, Joe Medicine Crow," Wild West 29:2 (August 2016), 13.

"War Songs of the Plains: Joseph Medicine Crow," Economist 419:8985 (April 16, 2016), 82.

Nina Sanders, "Remembering Dr. Joe Medicine Crow," Smithsonian, April 6, 2016.

Mardi Mileham, "Honoring a Cultural Treasure," Linfield Magazine 6:2 (Fall 2009), 6-11.

"Roundup," Wild West 21:2 (August 2008), 9.

Bradley Shreve, "Serving Those Who Served," Tribal College Journal 29:2 (Winter 2017) 10-11.

Brenda J. Child and Karissa E. White, "'I've Done My Share': Ojibwe People and World War II," Minnesota History 61:5 (Spring 2009), 196-207.

Emily Langer, "Native American Icon Was 'Warrior and Living Legend,'" Montreal Gazette, April 13, 2016, B.14.

"Joe Medicine Crow: Indian War Chief Decorated for Bravery Who Regaled Custer's 'Last Stand,'" Sunday Independent, April 10, 2016, 29.

"Joe Medicine Crow: War Chief Decorated for Bravery Who Told of Custer's 'Last Stand' From the Perspective of the Natives," Daily Telegraph, April 6, 2016, 27.

Mike McPhate, "Joseph Medicine Crow, Tribal War Chief and Historian, Dies at 102," New York Times, April 4, 2016.

Sarah Kaplan, "Joe Medicine Crow, a War Chief, Historian and the Last Link to the Battle of Little Big Horn, Dies at 102," Washington Post, April 4, 2016.

Alex Johnson, "Revered Indian Leader Joe Medicine Crow, Last Crow War Chief, Dies at 102," NBC News, April 4, 2016.

"Native American Chief Joe Medicine Crow Dies Aged 102," BBC News, April 3, 2016.

Matthew Brown, "Crow Tribe Elder, Historian Joe Medicine Crow Dead at 102," Associated Press, April 3, 2016.

Mike Ferguson and Jordon Niedermeier, "Joe Medicine Crow Dies in Billings on Sunday Morning," Billings [Mont.] Gazette, April 3, 2016.

Jack McNeel, "Joe Medicine Crow, War Chief," Indian Country Today, Sept. 24, 2008, 21.

"Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow to Receive the French Legion of Honor Award and the Bronze Star," Custer Battlefield Museum, May 21, 2008.

Robin A. Ladue, "The Last War Chief," Tribal Business Journal (accessed Nov. 22, 2020).

"Smithsonian Curator Remembers Plains Indian War Chief Joe Medicine Crow," All Things Considered, National Public Radio, April 4, 2016.

Jurek Martin, "Joe Medicine Crow, Warrior and Historian, 1913-2016," FT.com, April 8, 2016.

"President Obama Names Medal of Freedom Recipients," White House, July 30, 2009.

Herman Viola, "High Bird: Eulogy for Joe Medicine Crow (Crow), 1914-2016," National Museum of the American Indian, April 21, 2016.

Tim Ellis' daughter and the world's largest rubber chicken.

Listener mail:

Kevin W. Bowyer and Patrick J. Flynn, "Biometric Identification of Identical Twins: A Survey," IEEE Eighth International Conference on Biometrics Theory, Applications and Systems, 2016.

Sandee LaMotte, "The Other 'Fingerprints' You Don't Know About," CNN, Dec. 4, 2015.

Cailin O'Connor, "Life Is Random," Slate, Sept. 12, 2014.

Thomas G. Kaye and Mark Meltzer, "Diatoms Constrain Forensic Burial Timelines: Case Study With DB Cooper Money," Scientific Reports 10:1 (Aug. 3, 2020), 1-9.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Carsten Hamann, 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!

Dec 07, 2020
321-The Calculating Boy
32:41

George Parker Bidder was born with a surprising gift: He could do complex arithmetic in his head. His feats of calculation would earn for him a university education, a distinguished career in engineering, and fame throughout 19th-century England. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast, we'll describe his remarkable ability and the stunning displays he made with it.

We'll also try to dodge some foul balls and puzzle over a leaky ship.

Intro:

John Clem joined the Union Army at age 10.

Actress Tippi Hedren kept an African lion as a house pet in the 1970s.

Sources for our feature on George Bidder:

E.F. Clark, George Parker Bidder: The Calculating Boy, 1983.

Steven Bradley Smith, The Great Mental Calculators: The Psychology, Methods, and Lives of Calculating Prodigies, Past and Present, 1983.

Frank D. Mitchell, Mathematical Prodigies, 1907.

Henry Budd Howell, A Foundational Study in the Pedagogy of Arithmetic, 1914.

A.W. Skempton and Mike Chrimes, A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland: 1500-1830, 2002.

George Eyre Evans, Midland Churches: A History of the Congregations on the Roll of the Midland Christian Union, 1899.

David Singmaster, "George Parker Bidder: The Calculating Boy by E.F. Clark," Mathematical Gazette 71:457 (October 1987), 252-254.

Antony Anderson, "Fairgrounds to Railways With Numbers," New Scientist 100:1385 (Nov. 24, 1983), 581.

Frank D. Mitchell, "Mathematical Prodigies," American Journal of Psychology 18:1 (January 1907), 61-143.

Richard A. Proctor, "Calculating Boys," Belgravia Magazine 38:152 (June 1879), 450-470.

Martin Gardner, "Mathematical Games," Scientific American 216:4 (April 1967), 116-123.

"A Short Account of George Bidder, the Celebrated Mental Calculator: With a Variety of the Most Difficult Questions, Proposed to Him at the Principal Towns in the Kingdom, and His Surprising Rapid Answers, Etc.," pamphlet, 1821.

Louis McCreery, "Mathematical Prodigies," Mathematics News Letter 7:7/8 (April-May 1933), 4-12.

"Memoirs of Deceased Members," Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers 57 (1878-1879), Part III, 294.

"George Parker Bidder," Devon Notes and Queries, Vol. 2, 1903.

"Calculating Boys," Strand 10 (1895), 277-280.

"Bidder, George Parker," Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911.

H.T. Wood, "Bidder, George Parker," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept. 23, 2004.

Listener mail:

Todd S. Purdum, "His Best Years Past, Veteran in Debt Sells Oscar He Won," New York Times, Aug. 7, 1992.

"In Financial Straits, Actor Sells '46 Oscar," Chicago Tribune, Aug. 7, 1992.

"Harold Russell Selling 'Best Years of Our Lives' Oscar," Los Angeles Times, July 31, 1992.

Heathcliff Rothman, "I'd Really Like to Thank My Pal at the Auction House," New York Times, Feb. 12, 2006.

Stephen Ceasar, "You Can't Put a Price on Oscar: Even Heirs of Winners Are Bound by Rules Against Selling the Statue," Los Angeles Times, Feb. 25, 2016.

"Orson Welles' Citizen Kane Oscar Auctioned in US," BBC News, Dec. 21, 2011.

Allen St. John, "Does Japanese Baseball Have the Answer for MLB's Dangerous Foul Ball Problem?", Forbes, Sept. 30, 2017.

"Foul Balls in Japanese Baseball," Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel, HBO, April 20, 2016.

"A Look at Some Extended Protective Nettings in the KBO and NPB," Fan Interference, Feb, 2, 2016.

Andrew W. Lehren and Michelle Tak, "Every Major League Baseball Team Will Expand Netting to Protect Fans From Foul Balls," NBC News, Dec. 11, 2019.

Bill Shaikin, "A Lawsuit Could Make Baseball Teams Liable for Foul Balls That Injure Fans," Los Angeles Times, Feb 20, 2020.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Jon Jerome.

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 30, 2020
320-John Hornby and the Barren Lands
35:34

John Hornby left a privileged background in England to roam the vast subarctic tundra of northern Canada. There he became known as "the hermit of the north," famous for staying alive in a land with very few resources. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast, we'll spend a winter with Hornby, who's been called "one of the most colorful adventurers in modern history."

We'll also consider an anthropologist's reputation and puzzle over an unreachable safe.

Intro:

In 1902, Ambrose Bierce proposed that we learn to sever our social ties.

Can it make sense to pray for a change in the past?

Sources for our feature on John Hornby:

Malcolm Waldron, Snow Man: John Hornby in the Barren Lands, 1931.

Pierre Berton, Prisoners of the North, 2011.

David F. Pelly, Thelon: A River Sanctuary, 1996.

Morten Asfeldt and Bob Henderson, eds., Pike's Portage: Stories of a Distinguished Place, 2010.

Misao Dean, Inheriting a Canoe Paddle: The Canoe in Discourses of English-Canadian Nationalism, 2013.

Michael D. Pitt, Beyond the End of the Road: A Winter of Contentment North of the Arctic Circle, 2009.

Mckay Jenkins, Bloody Falls of the Coppermine: Madness and Murder in the Arctic Barren Lands, 2007.

Clive Powell-Williams, Cold Burial: A True Story of Endurance and Disaster, 2003.

Brook Sutton, "Long Before McCandless, John Hornby Tested Himself in Northern Canada -- and Failed," Adventure Journal, Oct. 27, 2016.

C.B. Sikstrom, "Hjalmar Nelson Hamar (1894–1967)," Arctic 67:3 (2014), 407-409.

Alex M. Hall, "Pike's Portage: Stories of a Distinguised Place, Edited by Morten Asfeldt and Bob Henderson," Arctic 63:3 (2010), 364-365.

David F. Pelly, "Snow Man: John Hornby in the Barren Lands," Arctic 53:1 (March 2000), 81-82.

Hugh Stewart, "Arctic Profiles: John Hornby," Arctic 37:2 (June 1984), 184-185.

M.T. Kelly, "Snow Man: John Hornby in the Barren Lands," Books in Canada 27:7 (October 1998), 29.

Thomas H. Hill, "John Hornby: Legend or Fool," Torch Magazine 89:2 (Winter 2016), 6-9.

Martin Zeilig, "Touring Canada's Untouched North a Treat," [Regina, Sask.] Leader Post, Oct. 27, 2006, F2.

"Privation and Death in 'the Barrens,'" Toronto Star, Aug. 9, 1987, A8.

Anne Ross, "John Hornby," Globe and Mail, March 21, 1978, P.6.

George J. Lustre, "Hornby's Adventures," Globe and Mail, March 10, 1978, P.7.

Allan Irving, "John Hornby," Globe and Mail, March 9, 1978, P.6.

"Last Hours of John Hornby Are Pictured by Christian," [Washington D.C.] Evening Star, Dec. 31, 1929, 2.

"Bodies of Three Explorers Found," [Washington D.C.] Evening Star, Sept. 6, 1928, 29.

"Identity of Bodies Not Entirely Clear," New Britain [Conn.] Herald, Aug. 15, 1928, 10.

"Musk-Ox Sanctuary," Montreal Gazette, Aug. 26, 1927.

James Charles Critchell Bullock Archive, Sherborne School, June 1, 2015.

John Ferns, "Hornby, John," Dictionary of Canadian Biography (accessed Nov. 8, 2020).

Listener mail:

"Building Name Review: Kroeber Hall," Berkeley: Office of the Chancellor (accessed Nov. 7, 2020).

"Proposal to Un-Name Kroeber Hall," UC Berkeley Building Name Review Committee, July 1, 2020.

Karl Kroeber and Clifton B. Kroeber, Ishi in Three Centuries, 2003.

Vicky Baker, "Last Survivor: The Story of the 'World's Loneliest Man,'" BBC News, July 20, 2018.

Dom Phillips, "Footage of Sole Survivor of Amazon Tribe Emerges," Guardian, July 19, 2018.

Monte Reel, "The Most Isolated Man on the Planet," Slate, Aug. 20, 2010.

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!

Nov 23, 2020
319-Friedrich Kellner's Opposition
33:49

In the 1930s, German civil servant Friedrich Kellner was outraged by the increasing brutality of the Nazi party and the complicity of his fellow citizens. He began to keep a secret diary to record the crimes of the Third Reich and his condemnations of his countrymen. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast, we'll tell the story of Friedrich's diary and his outspoken warnings to future generations.

We'll also ponder the problem with tardigrades and puzzle over a seemingly foolish choice.

Intro:

In 1983, Kenneth Gardner patented a way to cremate corpses using solar energy.

How can Anna Karenina's fate move us when we know she’s not a real person?

Sources for our feature on Friedrich Kellner:

Robert Scott Kellner, ed., My Opposition: The Diary of Friedrich Kellner -- A German Against the Third Reich, 2018.

Hermann Beck, "My Opposition: The Diary of Friedrich Kellner -- A German Against the Third Reich," Holocaust and Genocide Studies 33:2 (Fall 2019), 271-273.

Peter Fritzsche, "Vernebelt, verdunkelt sind alle Hirne." Tagebücher 1939-1, Central European History 45:4 (December 2012), 780-782.

David Clay Large, "My Opposition: The Diary of Friedrich Kellner; A German Against the Third Reich," Journal of Modern History 91:2 (June 2019), 480-481.

Robert Scott Kellner, "Nebraskan, Other U.S. Soldiers Brought Justice to WWII German Town," Omaha World-Herald, May 8, 2020.

Robert Scott Kellner, "Commentary: He Documented Nazi Crimes, Secretly, for the Future to Know," Chicago Tribune, April 18, 2020.

Robert Scott Kellner, "'The American Army Makes an Impression,'" Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2020.

Robert Scott Kellner, "Waiting for D-Day in Germany," Los Angeles Times, June 6, 2019, A.11.

Robert Scott Kellner, "The Curse of an Evil Deed," [Washington, D.C.] Examiner, May 8, 2019.

Matt Lebovic, "New Memoir Compilation by Hitler's Personal Staff Airs Historical Dirty Laundry," Times of Israel, Oct. 13, 2018.

Jane Warren, "Exposed: Myth That Civilians Knew Nothing of Nazi Atrocities," Daily Express, March 10, 2018, 31.

Laurence Rees, "Meet Friedrich Kellner: The Unlikely Face of Nazi Resistance," Telegraph, Jan. 22, 2018.

Richard J. Evans, "My Opposition: The Diary of Friedrich Kellner Review – A German Against the Nazis," Guardian, Jan. 12, 2018, 6.

Matt Lebovic, "What Did Germans Know? Secret Anti-Nazi Diary Gives Voice to Man on the Street," Times of Israel, Jan. 8, 2018.

Benjamin Weinthal, "A Diary for the Future," Jerusalem Post, Jan. 27, 2012, 12.

"Germany Weaves Web of Its Modern History," [Abu Dhabi] National, Nov. 1, 2011.

"A Reminder of the Need to Preserve the Truth," [Montreal] Gazette, Oct. 17, 2011, A.23.

Madeline Chambers, "'Ordinary' German's Diary Decried Nazi Atrocities," [Montreal] Gazette, Oct. 13, 2011, A.18.

Graeme Morton, "Diaries Chronicle Fall Into Hitlerian Hell," [Victoria, B.C.] Times Colonist, Nov. 17, 2007, C4.

Sam Ser, "Anti-Nazi's Revealing Wartime Diaries Become 'Weapon to Combat Evil,'" Jerusalem Post, April 5, 2005, 6.

Phil Magers, "Feature: German's War Diary Goes Public," UPI Perspectives, March 25, 2005.

Robert Scott Kellner, "Opposing the Nazis: The Secret Diary of a German Against the Third Reich," History Extra, Aug. 22, 2018.

Robert Scott Kellner, "Where Will the Culture of Internet Attacks Lead? Nazi Opponent Friedrich Kellner's Diaries Offer Warnings," History News Network, Aug. 23, 2020.

Listener mail:

Poppy Noor, "Overzealous Profanity Filter Bans Paleontologists From Talking About Bones," Guardian, Oct. 16, 2020.

Maria Cramer, "Paleontologists See Stars as Software Bleeps Scientific Terms," New York Times, Oct. 18, 2020.

Becky Ferreira, "A Profanity Filter Banned the Word 'Bone' at a Paleontology Conference," Vice, Oct. 15, 2020.

Thomas R. Holtz Jr., "SVPers: I have put together a sheet of the 'banned' words on the Q&A function at #2020SVP so far," Twitter, Oct. 13, 2020.

Samantha Cole, "PayPal Is Stalling Cute Tardigrade Merch -- and a Notorious Weapons Dealer Is to Blame," Vice, Sept. 11, 2020.

Tim Ellis, "Weird Seattle Retailer Archie Mcphee Hit With Even Weirder Paypal Problem, Foiling Tardigrade Sales," GeekWire, Sept. 11, 2020.

"Rubber Chicken Museum," Atlas Obscura, accessed Nov. 1, 2020.

"Archie McPhee's Rubber Chicken Museum," Archie McPhee, accessed Nov. 1, 2020.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Scarlett Casey.

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 16, 2020
318-Peace Pilgrim
33:15

In 1953 Mildred Norman renounced "an empty life of money and things" and dedicated herself to promoting peace. She spent the next three decades walking through the United States to spread a message of simplicity and harmony. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe her unusual life as a peace pilgrim.

We'll also admire Wellington's Mittens and puzzle over a barren Christmas.

Intro:

In 1956, Navy pilot Tom Attridge overtook his own rounds in a supersonic jet.

Flemish artist Cornelius Gijsbrechts painted a rendering of the back of a painting.

Sources for our feature on Peace Pilgrim:

Peace Pilgrim, Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words, 1992.

Peace Pilgrim, Steps Toward Inner Peace, 1964.

Kathlyn Gay, American Dissidents: An Encyclopedia of Activists, Subversives, and Prisoners of Conscience, 2012.

Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, 2001.

Peace Pilgrim's website.

Michael M. Piechowski, "Giftedness for All Seasons: Inner Peace in a Time of War," Henry B. and Jocelyn Wallace National Research Symposium on Talent Development, University of Iowa, 1991.

Michael M. Piechowski, "Is Inner Transformation a Creative Process?", Creativity Research Journal 6:1-2 (1993), 89-98.

Michael M. Piechowski, "Peace Pilgrim, Exemplar of Level V," Roeper Review 31:2 (2009), 103-112.

Amanda Kautz, "Peace Pilgrim: An American Parallel to a Buddhist Path," Buddhist-Christian Studies 10 (1990), 165-172.

Roy Tamashiro, "Planetary Consciousness, Witnessing the Inhuman, and Transformative Learning: Insights From Peace Pilgrimage Oral Histories and Autoethnographies," Religions 9:5 (2018), 148.

"Introducing Peace Pilgrim," Equality 15 (May 1969), 3.

"Peace Pilgrim's Progress," Equality 1 (May 1965), 3.

Ann Rush with John Rush, "Peace Pilgrim: An Extraordinary Life," 1992.

Peace Pilgrim, "On Foot and on Faith," The Sun Magazine, February 2020.

Katharine Q. Seelye, "Overlooked No More: Emma Gatewood, First Woman to Conquer the Appalachian Trail Alone," New York Times, June 27, 2018.

Steve Taylor, "Peace Pilgrim: A Way to Wakefulness," Psychology Today, June 8, 2016.

Paul Venesz, "7th Peace Pilgrim Celebration," [Vineland, N.J.] Daily Journal, Sept. 24, 2014, 9.

"Peace Pilgrim Nominated to Hall of Fame," [Vineland, N.J.] Daily Journal, May 28, 2014, 1.

"Peace Pilgrim Is Eyed for Hall," [Vineland, N.J.] Daily Journal, Oct. 23, 2013, 1.

Braden Campbell, "Author of New Book on Peace Pilgrim to Take Part in Egg Harbor City Celebration," Press of Atlantic City, Sept. 11, 2013.

Kate Murphy, "Walking the Country as a Spiritual Quest," New York Times, March 2, 2013.

Zak Rosen, "Peace Pilgrim's 28-Year Walk for 'A Meaningful Way of Life,'" All Things Considered, National Public Radio, Jan. 1, 2013.

Jason Nark, "Peace Pilgrim's Message Carried On," Philadelphia Daily News, July 19, 2008, 7.

Sandra Malasky, "Peace Pilgrim Walked the Walk," Peterborough [Ont.] Examiner, July 2, 2005, B4.

Bernard Bauer, "A 25-Year Hike," Berkeley [Calif.] Barb 28:2 (Oct. 26-Nov. 8, 1978), 3.

Chet Briggs, "Peace Pilgrim Comes to Town," [Austin, Texas] Rag 1:15 (Feb. 20, 1967), 7.

"Peace Pilgrim," Ottawa County [Ohio] News, Sept. 25, 1953, 2.

"Heard in Lawrence," Lawrence [Kan.] Journal-World, June 29, 1953.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Mittens (cat)" (accessed Oct. 10, 2020).

Eleanor Ainge Roy, "'The Best Thing About Wellington': Mittens the Cat Has Paws All Over New Zealand Capital," Guardian, March 3, 2020.

"The Wondrous Adventures of Mittens," Facebook.

"Celebrity Cat Mittens 'His Floofiness' Awarded Key to the City by Wellington's Mayor," 1 News, May 22, 2020.

"Feline Groovy: Mittens Unlocks More Hearts With Key to the City," Wellington City Council, May 22, 2020.

Katarina Williams, "Wellington Feline Celebrity Mittens Awarded Key to the City," stuff, May 22, 2020.

Eleanor Ainge Roy, "Celebrity Cat Called Mittens in the Running to Be New Zealander of the Year," Guardian, Aug 19, 2020.

"Jock VII Takes the Helm," International Churchill Society (accessed Oct. 10, 2020).

"Jock VII of Chartwell," National Trust (accessed Oct. 10, 2020).

Laura Silverman, "Meet the Long Line of Ginger Cats Who've Taken Up Residence in Winston Churchill's Home," Telegraph, July 20, 2020.

"A Perpetual Pussycat," Futility Closet, Oct. 21, 2013.

Peter Black, "RIP Doorkins Magnificat," Blogspot, Oct. 5, 2020

"The Story of Doorkins Magnificat," Southwark Cathedral, accessed Oct. 10, 2020.

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 02, 2020
317-Lateral Thinking Puzzles
31:51

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:

Stonewall Jackson recorded 14 precepts for good conversation.

Ben Franklin offered four "rules for making oneself a disagreeable companion."

Sources for this episode's puzzles:

Puzzle #1 is from listener Allen Houser.

Puzzle #2 is from listener Michael Cavanagh.

Puzzle #3 is from listener Jessica Aves.

Puzzle #4 is from listener Laura Merz.

Puzzle #5 is from listener ospalh.

Puzzle #6 is from Agnes Rogers' 1953 book How Come? A Book of Riddles, sent in by listener Jon Jerome.

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 26, 2020
316-A Malaysian Mystery
33:22

In 1967, Jim Thompson left his silk business in Thailand for a Malaysian holiday with three friends. On the last day, he disappeared from the cottage in which they were staying. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review the many theories behind Thompson's disappearance, which has never been explained.

We'll also borrow John Barrymore's corpse and puzzle over a teddy bear's significance.

Intro:

A 1969 contributor to NPL News suggested that orchestras were wasting effort.

Robert Wood cleaned a 40-foot spectrograph by sending his cat through it.

Sources for our feature on Jim Thompson:

William Warren, Jim Thompson: The Unsolved Mystery, 2014.

Joshua Kurlantzick, The Ideal Man: The Tragedy of Jim Thompson and the American Way of War, 2011.

Matthew Phillips, Thailand in the Cold War, 2015.

Taveepong Limapornvanich and William Warren, Thailand Sketchbook: Portrait of a Kingdom, 2003.

Jeffery Sng, "The Ideal Man: The Tragedy of Jim Thompson and the American Way of War by Joshua Kurlantzick," Journal of the Siam Society 102 (2014), 296-299.

Tim McKeough, "Jim Thompson," Architectural Digest 71:4 (April 2014).

Alessandro Pezzati, "Jim Thompson, the Thai Silk King," Expedition Magazine 53:1 (Spring 2011), 4-6.

Daisy Alioto, "The Architect Who Changed the Thai Silk Industry and Then Disappeared," Time, May 9, 2016.

Anis Ramli, "Jim Thompson Found, 40 Years On," Malaysian Business, May 1, 2009, 58.

"Thailand: Jim Thompson's Legacy Lives On," Asia News Monitor, Feb. 8, 2010.

Peter A. Jackson, "An American Death in Bangkok: The Murder of Darrell Berrigan and the Hybrid Origins of Gay Identity in 1960s Thailand," GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 5:3 (1999), 361-411.

Mohd Haikal Mohd Isa, "Documentary Claims CPM Responsible for Jim Thompson's Disappearance in Cameron Highland," Malaysian National News Agency, Dec. 10, 2017.

Barry Broman, "Jim Thompson Was Killed by Malay Communists, Sources Say," The Nation [Bangkok], Dec. 4, 2017.

Grant Peck, "New Film Sheds Light on Jim Thompson Mystery," Associated Press, Oct. 21, 2017.

"A 50-Year Mystery: The Curious Case of Silk Tycoon Jim Thompson," dpa International, March 22, 2017.

George Fetherling, "The Man Who Vanished," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 29, 2013, B.7.

"Trends: The Mystery of Jim Thompson," [Hamilton, New Zealand] Waikato Times, May 8, 2013, T.13.

"Bangkok: Remembering Jim Thompson," The Nation [Bangkok], Oct. 3, 2012.

Bernd Kubisch, "The Riddle of Jim Thompson Continues to Fascinate Bangkok Visitors," McClatchy-Tribune Business News, Feb. 21, 2012.

Joshua Kurlantzick, "Into the Jungle," [Don Mills, Ont.] National Post, Dec. 7, 2011, A.16.

Joshua Kurlantzick, "Our Man in Bangkok," [Don Mills, Ont.] National Post, Dec. 6, 2011, A.14.

Yap Yok Foo, "Mystery of Jim Thompson's Disappearance," [Kuala Lumpur] New Straits Times, Feb. 1, 2004, 30.

Robert Frank, "Recipe for a Fashion Brand?", Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2001, B.1.

Jonathan Napack, "Will Jim Thompson's House Disappear, Too?", International Herald Tribune, Aug. 30, 2000.

Michael Richardson, "The Disappearance of Jim Thompson," International Herald Tribune, March 26, 1997, 2.

Hisham Harun, "Jim Thompson's Legacy," [Kuala Lumpur] New Straits Times, Aug. 12, 1996, 09.

Philp Shenon, "What's Doing In: Bangkok," New York Times, Jan. 31, 1993.

William Warren, "Is Jim Thompson Alive and Well in Asia?", New York Times, April 21, 1968.

"Jim Thompson," Encyclopaedia Britannica (accessed Oct. 4, 2020).

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "John Barrymore" (accessed Oct. 8, 2020).

"Drew Barrymore Has a Hard Time Processing While Eating Hot Wings," Hot Ones, Aug. 20, 2020.

Marina Watts, "Drew Barrymore Reveals the Unique Experience Grandfather John Barrymore Had After Death," Newsweek, Aug. 21, 2020.

Adam White, "Drew Barrymore Says Her Grandfather's Corpse Was Stolen From the Morgue for 'One Last Party,'" Independent, Aug. 20, 2020.

Wikipedia, "Hot Ones" (accessed Oct. 8, 2020).

"Earth Does Not Move for Science," BBC News, Sept. 7, 2001.

Tim Radford, "Children's Giant Jump Makes Waves for Science," Guardian, Sept. 7, 2001.

Reuters, "Jump Kids, Jump! Shake That Earth," Wired, Sept 7, 2001.

"Schoolkids Jump-Start a Quake in Britain," Los Angeles Times, Sept. 8, 2001.

"Newspaper Clipping of the Day," Strange Company, Aug. 26, 2020.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Hanno Zulla, 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!

Oct 19, 2020
315-Beryl Markham's Unconventional Life
33:36

Beryl Markham managed to fit three extraordinary careers into one lifetime: She was a champion racehorse trainer, a pioneering bush pilot, and a best-selling author. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review her eventful life, including her historic solo flight across the Atlantic in 1936.

We'll also portray some Canadian snakes and puzzle over a deadly car.

Intro:

In 1974, Stewart Coffin devised a topological puzzle without a solution.

In August 1972, Applied Optics determined that Heaven is hotter than Hell.

Sources for our feature on Beryl Markham:

Mary S. Lovell, Straight on Till Morning: The Life of Beryl Markham, 2011.

Beryl Markham, West With the Night, 1942.

Derek O'Connor, "The Remarkable Mrs. Markham," Aviation History 28:2 (November 2017), 54-59.

Paula McLain, "An Insanely Glamorous Love Triangle," Town & Country, Sept. 2, 2015.

Nate Pederson, "West With the Night," Aviation History 20:1 (September 2009), 62-62.

Diana Ketcham, "Bad Girl," Nation 245:17 (Nov. 21, 1987), 600-602.

Beryl Markham, "The Splendid Outcast," Saturday Evening Post 217:10 (Sept. 2, 1944), 12.

"Aviator Beryl Markham Went With the Wind," [Durban] Sunday Tribune, June 4, 2017, 13.

Erin Pottie, "Piece of History?", [Halifax, N.S.] Chronicle-Herald, Aug. 25, 2015, A1.

"Beryl Markham: An Obituary," Times, Aug. 5, 1999, 25.

Jane O'Reilly, "Never Down to Earth," New York Times, Oct. 3, 1993.

Christopher Reed, "Inside Story: Beryl's Crash Landing," Guardian, Sept. 29, 1993.

Frances Padorr Brent, "Beryl Markham: Truly Adventurous But Perhaps Less Than Honest," Chicago Tribune, Sept. 12, 1993, 6.

Sylvia O'Brien, "For Whom Beryl Toiled," International Herald Tribune, Sept. 9, 1993.

"Ghost Story," New York Times, Aug. 29, 1993.

Robert Savage, "Rediscovering Beryl Markham," New York Times, Oct. 4, 1987, A.50.

Nancy Lemann, "Stories Under a Shadow," St. Petersburg Times, Sept. 27, 1987, 6D.

"Africa Bush Pilot Beryl Markham, 83," Chicago Tribune, Aug. 6, 1986, 7.

Burr Van Atta, "Beryl Markham, 83, First Pilot to Cross the Atlantic East to West," Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug. 5, 1986, B.6.

"Beryl Markham, Aviation Pioneer, 83," Newsday, Aug. 5, 1986, 27.

"Beryl Markham," Globe and Mail, Aug. 5, 1986, C.12.

"Beryl Markham Is Dead at 83; Flew Across Atlantic in 1936," Associated Press, Aug. 5, 1986.

"Mrs. Beryl Markham Wed," New York Times, Oct. 18, 1942.

"Beryl Markham Seeks Divorce," New York Times, Oct. 6, 1942.

Talbot Lake, "Beryl Markham Writes of Her Hectic Life," [Mount Clemens, Mich.] Daily Monitor Leader, July 24, 1942.

Jane Spence Southron, "Personal Record Out of Africa; Beryl Markham's Autobiography Is Vivid, Evocative Writing," New York Times, June 21, 1942.

"Conquers Atlantic in Daring Flight," [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, Sept. 13, 1936.

"Mrs. Markham, English Society Matron, Has Only Headache to Remind Her of Lone Ocean Flight," United Press, Sept. 7, 1936.

"Woman Takes Off on Lone Hop to Try East-West Crossing," [Elizabeth City, N.C.] Daily Independent, Sept. 5, 1936.

"Woman Flyer Conquers Atlantic, But Low Gas May Cut Flight Short," Associated Press, Sept. 5, 1936.

"English Woman Flier Is Grounded in Nova Scotia After Crossing Atlantic," Henderson [N.C.] Daily Dispatch, Sept. 5, 1936.

"English Woman Begins Solo Hop Across Atlantic," Associated Press, Sept. 4, 1936.

"Lone Woman Flier Starts West Swing," Henderson [N.C.] Daily Dispatch, Sept. 4, 1936.

"Beryl Markham," Encyclopaedia Britannica, July 30, 2020.

C.S. Nicholls, "Markham [née Clutterbuck], Beryl," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept. 23, 2004.

Listener mail:

"Sir Nicholas Winton 1909-2015," England Fencing.

"Bobby Winton 1914-2009," British Veterans Fencing.

"Nicholas Winton Honoured by the Czechs for Saving Children From the Nazis," British Fencing.

CRIBS International website.

"Statue for 'British Schindler' Sir Nicholas Winton," BBC News, Sept. 18, 2010.

"Sir Nicholas Winton," Maidenhead Heritage Centre, accessed September 25, 2020.

"U-Haul SuperGraphics - Manitoba," accessed September 30, 2020 (for the specific graphic that Rebecca saw).

"About U-Haul SuperGraphics," accessed Oct. 1, 2020.

"Manitoba: Female Impersonators," accessed Oct. 1, 2020.

"Venture Across America and Canada," accessed Sept. 30, 2020.

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!

Oct 12, 2020
314-The Taliesin Murders
32:58

By 1914 Frank Lloyd Wright had become one of America's most influential architects. But that August a violent tragedy unfolded at his Midwestern residence and studio. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the shocking attack of Julian Carlton, which has been called "the most horrific single act of mass murder in Wisconsin history."

We'll also admire some helpful dogs and puzzle over some freezing heat.

Intro:

In 1992 by Celess Antoine patented an umbrella for dogs.

Ignaz Moscheles' piano piece "The Way of the World" reads the same upside down.

Sources for our feature on the Taliesin killings:

William R. Drennan, Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders, 2007.

Ron McCrea, Building Taliesin: Frank Lloyd Wright's Home of Love and Loss, 2013.

Paul Hendrickson, Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright, 2019.

Meryle Secrest, Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography, 1998.

Anthony Alofsin, "Loving Frank; Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 69:3 (September 2010), 450-451.

Christopher Benfey, "Burning Down the House," Harper's Magazine 339:2035 (December 2019), 88-94.

Naomi Uechi, "Evolving Transcendentalism: Thoreauvian Simplicity in Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin and Contemporary Ecological Architecture," Concord Saunterer 17 (2009), 73-98.

Jonathan Morrison, "Frank Lloyd Wright: The Giant Talent With Shaky Foundations," Times, Jan. 4, 2020, 16.

Michael Prodger, "Plagued By Fire by Paul Hendrickson -- Frank Lloyd Wright, a Life of Disaster and Disarray," Guardian, Nov. 22, 2019, 14.

Philip Kennicott, "He Burned Frank Lloyd Wright's House and Killed His Mistress -- But Why?", Washington Post, Nov. 22, 2019.

"Monumental Achievements: Frank Lloyd Wright, an American Great Whose Life Was as Colourful as His Buildings Were Breathtaking," Sunday Times, Oct. 20, 2019, 32.

John Glassie, "What Kept Wright From Running Dry?", Washington Post, Oct. 6, 2019, E.12.

Ron Hogan, "The Tragic Story of Guggenheim Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's Secret Love Nest," New York Post, Oct. 5, 2019.

Leanne Shapton and Niklas Maak, "The House That Love Built -- Before It Was Gone," New York Times, July 4, 2016.

Ron McCrea, "August, 1914: Small-Town Wisconsin Rises to the Occasion of the Taliesin Mass Murder," [Madison, Wis.] Capital Times, Aug. 14, 2014.

Mara Bovsun, "Cook Massacres Seven at Wisconsin Home Frank Lloyd Wright Built for His Mistress," New York Daily News, Jan. 25, 2014.

Patricia Wolff, "Tranquil Taliesin Harbors Tragic Tale," Oshkosh [Wis.] Northwestern, June 26, 2011, A.1.

Ron McCrea, "Taliesin's Postcard Memories Rare Photos Reveal Scenes From Frank Lloyd Wright's Pre-Fire Dwellings," Madison [Wis.] Capital Times, March 23, 2011, 9.

Marcus Field, "Architect of Desire," Independent on Sunday, March 8, 2009, 14.

Robert Campbell, "House Proud: Paying Homage to Frank Lloyd Wright's Home, Taliesin East," Boston Globe, Dec. 13, 1992, 17.

Image: The Taliesin courtyard after the attack and fire. Frank Lloyd Wright is at left.

Listener mail:

"Just Nuisance," Simonstown.com (accessed Sept. 25, 2020).

Kirsten Jacobs, "The Legendary Tale of Just Nuisance," Cape Town Etc, Jan. 28, 2020.

The Kitchen Sisters, "Turnspit Dogs: The Rise and Fall of the Vernepator Cur," NPR, May 13, 2014.

Natalie Zarrelli, "The Best Kitchen Gadget of the 1600s Was a Small, Short-Legged Dog," Atlas Obscura, Jan. 11, 2017.

"Sewing Machine Worked by a Dog," Futility Closet, Oct. 16, 2011.

"Turnspit Dogs," Futility Closet, Nov. 10, 2006.

Wikipedia, "Newfoundland (dog)," accessed Sept. 24, 2020.

Stanley Coren, "The Dogs of Napoleon Bonaparte," Psychology Today, March 8, 2018.

"Beach Rescue Dog Alerts Swimmer," BBC News, 23 August 2007.

Adam Rivera, David Miller, Phoebe Natanson, and Andrea Miller, "Dogs Train Year-Round to Save Lives in the Italian Waters," ABC News, April 2, 2018.

Tom Kington, "Italy's Lifesaving Dogs Swim Towards Foreign Shores," Times, March 10, 2020, 31.

"Italy's Canine Lifeguards," NDTV, Aug. 23, 2010 (contains several photos).

Anna Gragert, "Newfoundland Dogs Help the Italian Coast Guard Save Lives," My Modern Met, Aug. 5, 2015 (contains several photos).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Garth Payne, 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 05, 2020
313-The Santa Claus Association
33:58

In 1913, New York publicist John Duval Gluck founded an association to answer Santa's mail. For 15 years its volunteers fulfilled children's Christmas wishes, until Gluck's motivation began to shift. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the rise and fall of "Santa's Secretary" in New York City.

We'll also survey some splitting trains and puzzle over a difference between twins.

Intro:

Edward Lear once had to prove his own existence.

Paul Dirac proposed that a math problem could be solved with -2 fish.

Sources for our feature on John Duval Gluck and the Santa Claus Association:

Alex Palmer, The Santa Claus Man: The Rise and Fall of a Jazz Age Con Man and the Invention of Christmas in New York, 2015.

Harry Pelle Hartkemeier, John Duvall Gluck, and Emma Croft Germond, "Social Science and Belief," Social Science 9:2 (April 1934), 202-208.

Eve M. Kahn, "'Mama Says That Santa Claus Does Not Come to Poor People,'" New York Times, Nov. 26, 2015.

Alex Palmer, "Meet the Con Artist Who Popularized Writing to Santa Claus," New York Post, Sept. 20, 2015.

Kathleen Read, "What Becomes of Santa Claus Letters?", [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, Dec. 21, 1930, 3.

"'Santa Claus' Gluck Ignores His Critics," New York Times, Dec. 11, 1928.

"Submits Accounting on Santa Claus Fund," New York Times, Jan. 11, 1928.

"Santa Claus Group Again Balks Inquiry," New York Times, Dec. 31, 1927.

"Santa Claus, Inc., Now Offers Books," New York Times, Dec. 25, 1927.

"Santa Claus Group in Postal Inquiry," New York Times, Dec. 24, 1927.

"Santa Claus Group Under Coler's Fire," New York Times, Dec. 23, 1927.

"Now the Santa Claus Letters Are Falling Into the Mail," New York Times, Dec. 4, 1927.

"Santa Claus Association Will Send Gifts To 12,000 Poor Children Who Wrote Letters," New York Times, Dec. 20, 1925.

"Thousands Write Santa," Richmond [Va.] Times-Dispatch, Dec. 21, 1919, 4.

"Probe Upholds Contentions of the Boy Scout Leaders," Harrisburg [Pa.] Telegraph, Aug. 24, 1917.

John Duval Gluck, "Boy Scouts: Suggestion That the Rival Bodies End Their Quarrel and Get to Work," New York Times, Aug. 19, 1917.

Max Abelman and John Duval Gluck, "Methods Proposed to Control Charity; Plans for a Charity Service League," New York Times, Aug. 5, 1917.

"Making Santa Real to Poor Children," New York Times, Nov. 22, 1914.

"Santa Claus Association Incorporated," New York Times, March 26, 1914.

"Played Santa Claus and Solved an Economic Problem," New York Times, Jan. 18, 1914.

"Letters to Santa Really Answered," New York Times, Dec. 25, 1913.

"Plays Santa Claus to Poor," New York Times, Dec. 12, 1913.

"Santa Claus Will Answer His Mail," New York Times, Dec. 7, 1913.

"Form Santa Claus Body," New York Times, Dec. 6, 1913.

USPS Operation Santa.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "S1 (Munich)" (accessed Aug. 22, 2020).

S1 (Munich) schedule.

Wikipedia, "Dividing Train" (accessed Sept. 17, 2020).

"France in Detail: Getting Around," Lonely Planet, accessed Aug. 22, 2020.

"'Where the Train Will Divide...' - Portion Working," Southern Electric Group (accessed Aug. 22, 2020).

Wikitravel, "Wakayama" (accessed Aug. 22, 2020).

Amtrak Empire Builder schedule, March 16, 2020.

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!

Sep 28, 2020
312-The Last of the Yahi
31:13

In 1911 an exhausted man emerged from the wilderness north of Oroville, California. He was discovered to be the last of the Yahi, a people who had once flourished in the area but had been decimated by white settlers. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Ishi's sad history and his new life in San Francisco.

We'll also consider the surprising dangers of baseball and puzzle over a forceful blackout.

Intro:

Director Chuck Jones laid out nine rules to govern Road Runner cartoons.

James Cook's third expedition to the Pacific discovered a surprising amusement in Hawaii.

Sources for our feature on Ishi:

Theodora Kroeber, Ishi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America, 1961.

Robert F. Heizer and Theodora Kroeber, Ishi the Last Yahi: A Documentary History, 1981.

Orin Starn, Ishi's Brain: In Search of Americas Last 'Wild' Indian, 2005.

Karl Kroeber and Clifton B. Kroeber, Ishi in Three Centuries, 2003.

Saxton T. Pope, Hunting With the Bow & Arrow, 1923.

Saxton T. Pope, The Medical History of Ishi, Volume 13, 1920.

Nels C. Nelson, Flint Working by Ishi, 1916.

Ronald H. Bayor, The Columbia Documentary History of Race and Ethnicity in America, 2004.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, "Ishi's Brain, Ishi's Ashes," Anthropology Today 17:1 (Feb. 1, 2001), 12.

Alexandra K. Kenny, Thomas Killion, and Nancy Scheper-Hughes, "'Ishi's Brain, Ishi's Ashes': The Complex Issues of Repatriation: A Response to N. Scheper-Hughes," Anthropology Today 18:2 (April 2002), 25-27.

Kathleen L. Hull, "Ishi, Kroeber, and Modernity," Current Anthropology 51:6 (December 2010), 887-888.

Isaiah Wilner, "Wild Men: Ishi and Kroeber in the Wilderness of Modern America," Ethnohistory 58:1 (Winter 2011), 158-159.

Dennis Torres, "Ishi," Central States Archaeological Journal 31:4 (October 1984), 175-179.

Richard Pascal, "Naturalizing 'Ishi': Narrative Appropriations of America's 'Last Wild Indian,'" Australasian Journal of American Studies 16:2 (December 1997), 29-44.

Saxton T. Pope, "Hunting With Ishi -- The Last Yana Indian," Journal of California Anthropology 1:2 (1974), 152-173.

M. Steven Shackley, "The Stone Tool Technology of Ishi and the Yana of North Central California: Inferences for Hunter-Gatherer Cultural Identity in Historic California," American Anthropologist 102:4 (2000), 693-712.

Duane H. King, "Exhibiting Culture: American Indians and Museums," Tulsa Law Review 45:1 (2009), 25.

Bruce Bower, "Ishi's Long Road Home," Science News 157:2 (Jan. 8, 2000), 24-25.

M.R. James, "Ishi Finally Comes to Rest," Bowhunter 30:2 (December 2000/January 2001), 25.

Randy White, "Grandfather Ishi," News From Native California 29:3 (Spring 2016), 34-37.

Andrew Curry, "The Last of the Yahi," U.S. News & World Report 129:7 (Aug, 21, 2000), 56.

Ann Japenga, "Revisiting Ishi: Questions About Discovery of the 'Last Wild Indian' Haunt Anthropologist's Descendants," Los Angeles Times, Aug. 29, 2003.

James May, "Spirit of Ishi Finally Free to Join Ancestors," Indian Country Today, Aug. 23, 2000.

Kevin Fagan, "Ishi's Kin To Give Him Proper Burial," San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 10, 2000.

Diana Walsh, "Ishi Finally Coming Home: 83 Years After His Death, Smithsonian Turns Over Brain of Famed Indian for Burial in California," San Francisco Examiner, Aug. 9, 2000, A-4.

Jan Cienski, "Remains of Last Member of California Tribe Go Home at Last: Ishi's Brain Returned," [Don Mills, Ont.] National Post, Aug. 9, 2000.

"Last of Yahi Will Finally Be Coming Home," Associated Press, Aug. 8, 2000.

Michelle Locke, "Mind and Body," Salt Lake Tribune, Aug. 8, 2000, A1.

Brenda Norrell, "Alliance: Eighty-Three Years Is Long Enough," Indian Country Today, May 31, 1999, A2.

Stanley McGarr, "Repatriation Restores Strength to the People," Indian Country Today, May 10, 1999, A5.

Jacqueline Trescott, "Relatives to Get Brain of Fabled Aboriginal," Calgary Herald, May 8, 1999, A18.

Avis Little Eagle, "Respect the Dead, Don't Study Them," Indian Country Today, March 15, 1999, A4.

Charles Hillinger, "Lost Tribe's Spirit Lives in Wilderness Area," Los Angeles Times, July 7, 1986, 3.

"Archery of Ishi Stone Age Man Will Be Shown," Berkeley Daily Gazette, Nov. 29, 1916.

"Tribe Now Dead," [Saint Paul, Minn.] Appeal, May 13, 1916.

"Redskin Presents Lane With Arrows, Makes Secretary Tribe's 'Big Chief,'" San Francisco Call, Sept. 6, 1913.

"The Only Man in America Who Knows No Christmas -- Ishi," San Francisco Call, Dec. 17, 1911.

"Ishi Loses Heart to 'Blond Squaw,'" San Francisco Call, Oct. 16, 1911.

"Ishi, the Last Aboriginal Savage in America," San Francisco Call, Oct. 8, 1911.

"Find a Rare Aborigine: Scientists Obtain Valuable Tribal Lore From Southern Yahi Indian," New York Times, Sept. 7, 1911.

Nancy Rockafellar, "The Story of Ishi: A Chronology," University of California, San Francisco (accessed Sept. 6, 2020).

Richard H. Dillon, "Ishi," American National Biography, February 2000.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Harold Russell" (accessed Sept. 8, 2020).

Wikipedia, "The Best Years of Our Lives" (accessed Sept. 11, 2020).

Richard Severo, "Harold Russell Dies at 88; Veteran and Oscar Winner," New York Times, Feb. 1, 2002.

Mark Montgomery, "Remembering Harold Russell, the Soldier-Actor Who Won Two Oscars for 'Best Years of Our Lives,'" Los Angeles Times, Dec. 10, 2016.

Jon Mooallem, "You're Out: The National Pastime's Shocking Death Toll," Slate, May 26, 2009.

Aaron W. Miller, "Death at the Ballpark: A Comprehensive Study of Game-Related Fatalities, 1862–2007 (review)," NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture 18:2 (Spring 2010), 198-199.

Mark R. Zonfrillo et al., "Death or Severe Injury at the Ball Game," Current Sports Medicine Reports 15:3 (May-June 2016), 132-133.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Emmett B.

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 21, 2020
311-A Disputed Russian Princess
34:23

In 1920, a young woman was pulled from a canal in Berlin. When her identity couldn't be established, speculation started that she was a Russian princess who had escaped the execution of the imperial family. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the strange life of Anna Anderson and her disputed identity as Grand Duchess Anastasia.

We'll also revisit French roosters and puzzle over not using headlights.

Intro:

In 1899, English engineer E.W. Barton-Wright introduced his own martial art.

One early American locomotive was driven by a horse walking on a belt.

Photo: The Russian royal family at Livadiya, Crimea, 1913, five years before the execution. Left to right: Olga, Maria, Nicholas II, Alexandra Fyodorovna, Anastasia, Alexei, and Tatiana. Sources for our feature on Anna Anderson:

Greg King and Penny Wilson, The Resurrection of the Romanovs: Anastasia, Anna Anderson, and the World's Greatest Royal Mystery, 2010.

John Klier and Helen Mingay, The Quest for Anastasia: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Romanovs, 1999.

James B. Lovell, Anastasia: The Lost Princess, 1995.

Frances Welch, A Romanov Fantasy: Life at the Court of Anna Anderson, 2007.

Toby Saul, "Death of a Dynasty: How the Romanovs Met Their End," National Geographic, July 20, 2018.

Alan Cooperman, "An Anastasia Verdict," U.S. News & World Report 117:11 (Sept. 19, 1994), 20.

"What Really Happened to Russia's Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov," Haaretz, Dec. 27, 2018.

Nancy Bilyeau, "Will the Real Anastasia Romanov Please Stand Up?", Town & Country, April 25, 2017.

"Is This Princess Alive?", Life 38:7 (Feb. 14, 1955), 31-35.

Martin Sieff, "Romanov Mystery Finally Solved," UPI, May 1, 2008.

"Amateurs Unravel Russia's Last Royal Mystery," New York Times, Nov. 24, 2007.

Lena Williams, "Chronicle," New York Times, Oct. 6, 1994, D.24.

"Topics of The Times; Anastasia Lives," New York Times, Sept. 11, 1994.

John Darnton, "Scientists Confirm Identification of Bones as Czar's," New York Times, July 10, 1993.

"Appeal in Anastasia Case Rejected in West Germany," New York Times, Feb. 18, 1970.

"Appeal in Anastasia Mystery Is Rejected by Hamburg Court," New York Times, March 1, 1967.

Arthur J. Olsenbonn, "Anastasia: Grand Duchess or Grand Hoax?", New York Times, Aug. 24, 1958.

Left: Franziska Schanzkowska in 1913. Right: Anna Anderson in 1920.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "Lynmouth Flood" (accessed Sept. 2, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Project Cumulus" (accessed Sept. 2, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Philip Eden" (accessed Sept. 2, 2020).

John Vidal and Helen Weinstein, "RAF Rainmakers 'Caused 1952 Flood,'" Guardian, Aug. 30, 2001.

Susan Borowski, "Despite Past Failures, Weather Modification Endures," AAAS.org, Dec. 31, 2012.

"Rain-Making Link to Killer Floods," BBC News, Aug. 30, 2001.

Laura Joint, "Lynmouth Flood Disaster," BBC, Jan. 25, 2008.

Philip Eden, "The Day They Made It Rain," Weather Online.

Locust Watch.

Sam Harrison, "The Sights, Sounds, and Smells of Rural France May Soon Be Protected by Law," Atlas Obscura, July 28, 2020.

"Proposition de loi nº 2211 visant à définir et protéger le patrimoine sensoriel des campagnes françaises," French National Assembly, Sept. 11, 2019.

"France: 74,000 Sign Petition Calling for Justice for Murdered Rooster," Euronews, Aug. 17, 2020.

Agence France-Presse, "Justice Sought for Marcel, French Rooster Shot for Crowing," Courthouse News Service, Aug. 17, 2020.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Jule Ann Wakeman.

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 14, 2020
310-The Case of Bobby Dunbar
31:12

In 1912, 4-year-old Bobby Dunbar went missing during a family fishing trip in Louisiana. Eight months later, a boy matching his description appeared in Mississippi. But was it Bobby Dunbar? In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the dispute over the boy's identity.

We'll also contemplate a scholarship for idlers and puzzle over an ignorant army.

Intro:

During his solo circumnavigation of 1895-98, Joshua Slocum met the pilot of the Pinta.

In 1868, inventor William Carr made a mousetrap for burglars.

Sources for our feature on Bobby Dunbar:

Tal McThenia and Margaret Dunbar Cutright, A Case for Solomon: Bobby Dunbar and the Kidnapping That Haunted a Nation, 2013.

Cathy Pickens, True Crime Stories of Eastern North Carolina, Sept. 28, 2020.

"Questions Remain in Bobby Dunbar Case," [Opelousas, La.] Daily World, Aug. 22, 2018, A.3.

"The Mystery Continues: One Century Later, Bobby Dunbar Kidnapping Case Remains Unsolved," [Opelousas, La.] Daily World, July 20, 2018, A.2.

Duncan McMonagle, "'World Famous' Kidnapping Saga Starts Well, Ends Badly," Winnipeg Free Press, Aug. 18, 2012, J.7.

Steve Weinberg, "Famed Crime's Shock Recalled," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Aug. 5, 2012, E.6.

William Johnson, "Dunbar Case to Receive National Spotlight," [Opelousas, La.] Daily World, Dec. 26, 2007.

"Man Convicted of Kidnapping 90 Years Ago Cleared," [Cranbrook, B.C.] Daily Townsman, May 5, 2004, 18.

"DNA Clears Up 1914 Case," Washington Times, May 5, 2004.

William Johnson, "Dunbar Rumors at Last Answered," [Opelousas, La.] Daily World, May 4, 2004.

Robert Marchant, "Unraveling," [White Plains, N.Y.] Journal News, Feb. 21, 2004, A.1.

Allen G. Breed, "Finding Bobby Dunbar," Associated Press, Feb. 1, 2004.

"Real Dunbar Boy in New Orleans, Says a Letter," Hattiesburg [Miss.] News, June 18, 1914, 2.

"Dunbars Will Not Go to New Orleans," [Opelousas, La.] St. Landry Clarion 23:30 (May 10, 1913).

"Walters Guilty as Charged, Without Capital Punishment," [Franklinton, La.] Era-Leader, April 30, 1914.

"Jury to Be Given Case by To-night," [Opelousas, La.] St. Landry Clarion 24:28 (April 25, 1914).

"Fighting for Life on Kidnaping Charge," [Columbia, La.] Caldwell Watchman 28:17 (April 17, 1914).

"Bobby Dunbar's Father Traces Clue to Location of Boy Bruce Anderson," Hattiesburg [Miss.] News 17:122 (May 22, 1913).

Photo: The disputed child with Deputy Sheriff Charles Day, from the New Orleans Times-Democrat, April 1913.

Listener mail:

John M. Shutske et al., "Notes From the Field: Death of a Farm Worker After Exposure to Manure Gas in an Open Air Environment -- Wisconsin, August 2016," MMWR: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 66:32 (Aug. 18, 2017), 861-862.

Angela Giuffrida, "'Italy's Robinson Crusoe' Despairs as Eviction From Island Paradise Looms," Guardian, July 15, 2020.

Silvia Marchetti, "Paradise Lost: Eviction Looms for Hermit Living Alone on Italian Island," CNN, July 28, 2020.

Wikipedia, "Budelli" (accessed Aug. 31, 2020).

Schule der Folgenlosigkeit: Übungen für ein anderes Leben, University of Fine Arts of Hamburg (accessed Aug. 31, 2020).

Firefighters drying hoses, from Richard Scarry's 1968 book What Do People Do All Day?

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Samuel Yeo.

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 07, 2020
309-The 'Grain of Salt' Episode
32:18

Sometimes in our research we come across stories that are regarded as true but that we can't fully verify. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll share two such stories from the 1920s, about a pair of New York fruit dealers and a mythologized bank robber, and discuss the strength of the evidence behind them.

We'll also salute a retiring cat and puzzle over a heartless spouse.

Intro:

English essayist A.C. Benson dreamed poems.

Robert Patch patented a toy truck at age 5.

Sources for our feature on the Fortunato brothers and Herman Lamm:

Walter Mittelstaedt, Herman 'Baron' Lamm, the Father of Modern Bank Robbery, 2012.

L.R. Kirchner, Robbing Banks: An American History 1831-1999, 2003.

William J. Helmer and Rick Mattix, Public Enemies: America's Criminal Past, 1919-1940, 1998.

John Toland, The Dillinger Days, 1963.

Bryan Burrough, Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34, 2009.

John Belle and Maxinne Rhea Leighton, Grand Central: Gateway to a Million Lives, 2000.

Brian Robb, A Brief History of Gangsters, 2014.

Carl Sifakis, Encyclopedia of American Crime, 2014.

Richard Ringer, "Today's Bank Robber Is No Baby Face Nelson; Current Group Called Amateurs in Comparison to Legendary Predecessors," American Banker 148 (Feb. 28, 1983), 2.

George W. Hunt, "Of Many Things," America 159:17 (Dec. 3, 1988), 450.

Alan Hynd, "Grand Central's $100,000 Deal," in Rouben Mamoulian, ed., Scoundrels & Scalawags: 51 Stories of the Most Fascinating Characters of Hoax and Fraud, 1968.

"Historical Perspective: Clinton and Rockville Robberies," [Terre Haute, Ind.] Tribune-Star, Sept. 15, 2019.

Philip Marchand, "Grand Theft With Autos: For Bandits and Desperadoes, a Fast Getaway Car Is Just as Important as a Gun," Toronto Star, July 7, 2012, W.1.

Scott McCabe, "Father of Modern Bank Robbery Killed in Shootout," [Washington, D.C.] Examiner, Dec. 16, 2011, 8.

Christopher Goodwin, "America's Own Robin Hood: John Dillinger Was a Suave, Smooth-Talking Gangster Who Was Cheered On by the Public," Sunday Times, June 28, 2009, 7.

Stephen Wilks, "In Pursuit of America's Public Enemies," Canberra Times, Jan. 17, 2009, 17.

"Nutty Scam Fooled Fruit Bros.", [Campbell River, B.C.] North Island Midweek, Jan. 3, 2007, 5.

Max Haines, "A Grand Con Game," Moose Jaw [Sask.] Times Herald, Dec. 27, 2006, B6.

"Fabulous Fakes," Gadsden [Ala.] Times, Nov. 11, 1983.

Donald Altschiller, "In This Corner; Robbery Today? It's a Crime," Boston Globe, Jan. 25, 1983, 1.

"Dead Bank Bandit Has Been Identified," Rushville [Ind.] Republican, Dec. 19, 1930.

Listener mail:

"'Chief Mouser' Palmerston Retires as UK's Top Diplomatic Cat," Associated Press, Aug. 7, 2020.

Justin Parkinson, "Foreign Office Cat Palmerston Retires to Countryside," BBC News, Aug. 7, 2020.

"Paws for Reflection: British Foreign Office Cat Heads for Retirement," Reuters, Aug. 7, 2020.

Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey and Stacey Lastoe, "'Cats' Is a Disaster, but Cats Aren't: The Best Cat Cafes to Show Your Solidarity With Our Beloved Companions," CNN, July 19, 2019.

Wikipedia, "Cat Café" (accessed Aug. 20, 2020).

Frances Cha, "Moomin, Japan's 'Anti-Loneliness' Cafe, Goes Viral," CNN, Feb. 21, 2017.

The bear's breakin.

Ed Mazza, "Big Boss Bear Bashes Down Door for Incredible Entrance Into Cabin," Huffington Post, July 22, 2020.

Becky Talley, "VIDEO: Lake Tahoe Bear Smashes Through Door Like 'The Hulk,'" Our Community Now, July 24, 2020.

"Meet the Canada Post Worker Who Wrote the 'Bear at Door' Non-Delivery Slip," CBC, Sept. 26, 2014.

Max Knoblauch, "'Bear at Door' Is a Solid Reason to Not Deliver a Package," Mashable, Sept. 25, 2014.

Listener Yulia Samaichuk sent us four photos of Tono's Cat Café in Tianzifang, Shanghai.

This week's lateral thinking puzzle is taken from Agnes Rogers' 1953 book How Come? A Book of Riddles, sent to us by listener Jon Jerome.

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 31, 2020
308-Nicholas Winton and the Czech Kindertransport
32:19

In 1939, as the shadow of war spread over Europe, British stockbroker Nicholas Winton helped to spirit hundreds of threatened children out of Czechoslovakia. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Winton's struggle to save the children and the world's eventual recognition of his achievements.

We'll also consider some ghostly marriages and puzzle over a ship's speed.

Intro:

There's a "technical version" of "A Visit From St. Nicholas."

Critic A.E. Wilson translated Hamlet's nunnery soliloquy into "Americanese."

Sources for our feature on Nicholas Winton:

Barbara Winton, If It's Not Impossible--: The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton, 2014.

William Chadwick, The Rescue of the Prague Refugees 1938-39, 2010.

Andrea Hammel and Bea Lewkowicz, The Kindertransport to Britain 1938/39: New Perspectives, 2012.

Rod Gragg, My Brother's Keeper: Christians Who Risked All to Protect Jewish Targets of the Nazi Holocaust, 2016.

Ivan A. Backer, My Train to Freedom: A Jewish Boy's Journey From Nazi Europe to a Life of Activism, 2016.

Laura E. Brade and Rose Holmes, "Troublesome Sainthood: Nicholas Winton and the Contested History of Child Rescue in Prague, 1938-1940," History & Memory 29:1 (Spring/Summer 2017), 3-40.

Anna Hájková, "Marie Schmolka and the Group Effort," History Today 68:12 (December 2018), 36-49.

Sona Patel, "Winton's Children Share Their Stories," New York Times, July 13, 2015.

"A Job Well Done; Nicholas Winton," Economist 416:8946 (July 11, 2015), 82.

"Train Tribute to Holocaust 'Hero' Sir Nicholas Winton," BBC News, July 9, 2015.

Alasdair Steven, "Sir Nicholas Winton," Scotsman, July 7, 2015, 34.

Sarah Sedghi, "Sir Nicholas Winton, the Man Who Saved 669 Children From the Holocaust," Australian Broadcasting Corporation, July 2, 2015.

"Sir Nicholas Winton," Scotsman, July 2, 2015, 42.

Raymond Johnston, "Sir Nicholas Winton to Be Honored in US," Prague Post, Sept. 25, 2013.

Robert D. McFadden, "Nicholas Winton, Rescuer of 669 Children From Holocaust, Dies at 106," New York Times, July 1, 2015.

"Holocaust 'Hero' Sir Nicholas Winton Dies Aged 106," BBC News, July 1, 2015.

Stephen Bates, "Sir Nicholas Winton Obituary," Guardian, July 1, 2015.

Daniel Victor, "Nicholas Winton's 'Most Emotional Moment,'" New York Times, July 1, 2015.

Jake Flanagin, "Britain’s Schindler, a Reluctant Hero," New York Times, July 10, 2014.

Caroline Sharples, "Winton [formerly Wertheim], Sir Nicholas George (Nicky)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Jan. 10, 2019.

"Sir Nicholas Winton," Biography, July 16, 2015.

"Nicholas Winton and the Rescue of Children From Czechoslovakia, 1938–1939," United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (accessed Aug. 9, 2020).

Winton appeared twice on the BBC1 television series That's Life!, on Feb. 27 and March 6, 1988. This video combines both appearances.

Listener mail:

"Did You Know Why Marrying Dead People Is Possible in France?", The Local, Jan. 28, 2019.

Lizzy Davies, "French Woman Marries Dead Partner," Guardian, Nov. 17, 2009.

Wikipedia, "Posthumous Marriage" (accessed Aug. 7, 2020).

Vicky Xiuzhong Xu and Bang Xiao, "Ghost Marriages: A 3,000-Year-Old Tradition of Wedding the Dead Is Still Thriving in Rural China," ABC News, April 6, 2018.

Grace Tsoi, "China's Ghost Weddings and Why They Can Be Deadly," BBC News, Aug. 24, 2016.

Wikipedia, "Chinese Ghost Marriage" (accessed Aug. 7, 2020).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Ken Somolinos, 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 24, 2020
307-The Cyprus Mutiny
33:53

In 1829 a group of convicts commandeered a brig in Tasmania and set off across the Pacific, hoping to elude their pursuers and win their freedom. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the mutineers of the Cyprus and a striking new perspective on their adventure.

We'll also consider a Flemish dog and puzzle over a multiplied Oscar.

Intro:

Mark Twain slipped an esophagus into a 1902 short story.

Designer Alan Fletcher's West London studio is secured with an alphabet.

Sources for our feature on William Swallow:

Warwick Hirst, The Man Who Stole the Cyprus: A True Story of Escape, 2008.

John Mulvaney, The Axe Had Never Sounded: Place, People and Heritage of Recherche Bay, Tasmania, 2007.

Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore, 1987.

David Chapman and Carol Hayes, eds., Japan in Australia: Culture, Context and Connection, 2019.

Andrew Steinmetz, Japan and Her People, 1859.

D.C.S. Sissons, "The Voyage of the Cyprus Mutineers: Did They Ever Enter Japanese Waters?", Journal of Pacific History 43:2 (September 2008), 253-265.

Ian Duffield, "Cutting Out and Taking Liberties: Australia's Convict Pirates, 1790–1829," International Review of Social History 58:21 (December 2013), 197–227.

E.R. Pretyman, "Pirates at Recherche Bay or the Loss of the Brig 'Cyprus'," Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 88 (1954), 119-128.

Mark Gregory, "Convict Era Broadsides and Ballads and the Working Poor: Part 1," Australian Folklore 32 (November 2017), 195-215.

Tim Stone, "How a Samurai Manuscript Vindicated the Wild Claims of Convict Escapee William Swallow," ABC Radio National, Sept. 9, 2019.

Troy Lennon, "Convicts Chased Freedom From Tasmania to China," [Surry Hills, N.S.W.] Daily Telegraph, Aug. 14, 2019, 35.

Rachel Mealey, "The Brig Cyprus: How an English Surfer Solved the Mystery of an Australian Pirate Ship in Japan," ABC News, June 24, 2017.

Joshua Robertson, "Australian Convict Pirates in Japan: Evidence of 1830 Voyage Unearthed," Guardian, May 27, 2017.

George Blaikie, "Slow Trip to China," [Adelaide] Mail, Oct. 27, 1951, 4.

"Piratical Seizure of the Government Brig Cyprus," [Hobart, Tasmania] Colonial Times, Sept. 4, 1829.

Stephen Gapps, "The Last Pirate," Australian National Maritime Museum, May 31, 2017.

"William Swallow," Convict Records of Australia (accessed July 26, 2020).

"As we approached the barbarian ship the dog wagged its tail and whined at us. Its face looks like my illustration. It did not look like food. It looked like a pet." Watercolors by samurai artist Makita Hamaguchi, 1830, from the Tokushima prefectural archive.

Listener mail:

Wikipedia, "A Dog of Flanders" (accessed July 31, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Dog of Flanders (TV series)" (accessed July 31, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Dogcart (Dog-Drawn)" (accessed July 31, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Drafting Dog" (accessed July 31, 2020).

Wikipedia, "Belgian Draft Dog" (accessed July 31, 2020).

"An Icon of the Belgian Army in WWI, the Dog Cart," War History Online, March 3, 2014.

De Belgische Mastiff.

Wikipedia, "Carting" (accessed August 2, 2020).

"A Dog of Flanders," National Purebred Dog Day, Dec. 5, 2018.

Wikipedia, "Bouvier des Flandres" (accessed August 2, 2020).

This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Marie Nearing. Here are four 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 10, 2020
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 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 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 links 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 links.

Puzzle #4 is from listener Paul Rippey.

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

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 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.

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.

We'll 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.

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.

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).

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 the Confederates. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe one of the war's most unlikely spies, and her determination to aid the South.

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.

NOTE: After this episode was originally released, some listeners objected to our handling of Greenhow's story, saying that we were treating her too sympathetically when she was defending the institution of slavery. They're entirely right about that -- I had focused on her personal story without being sensitive to its larger implications. I'm very sorry for that oversight. We're presenting the story here as it originally ran, and we'll discuss listeners' reactions to it in Episode 279. -- Greg

Sources for our feature:

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 3,800 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 Choi Eun-Hee and Shin Sang-Ok:

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.

William Makepeace Thackeray, "Going to See a Man Hanged," Fraser's Magazine 128:22 (August 1840), 150-158.

"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," Big Red Book (accessed July 13, 2019).

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!