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Britain’s High Court Repo Men

The content below is from Season 2 Episode 28 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast.

  • Welcome Who’d a Thunkers! This episode is going to be one big recommendation segment for a barely known TV series.
    • No history lesson, no moral theme, and an all-round light episode. Enjoy

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This episode’s recommendation segment is pretty straight forward. Go to YouTube and search “Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away.” You’ll find dozens of episodes of a British TV Series of which this episode is all about.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • The series follows High Court Enforcement Agents (HCEA, previously known as Sheriffs) in the UK who are tasked with executing privately obtained High Court writs across England and Wales on behalf of private clients, on those who have failed to make repayments on alleged debts or refuse to vacate a property.
    • It sounds a bit dull, but remember, he UK has different laws than America. There is no “Right to Bare Arms” there are no “Stand your ground” laws. So these men tasked to recovering a debt have A LOT more freedom than debt collectors in the US.
  • So here’s the basic break down of just about every episode:
    • Every episode starts with the narrator giving a depressing fun fact about debt and text appears on the screen with the numbers to back up said depressing fun fact.
  • Cut to Two fairly large British guys (some of which are pretty nasty looking bouncer types) driving up to an address. On the way they share the details of the case in the car. They almost always share how much money is owed by the debtor.
    • They arrive at the location and immediately start sizing up the goods.
      • For example: They usually look at the cars parked in the driveway and speculate on how much they are worth.
    • They knock on the door with their body cams and bullet proof vests that say “High Court” on them and politely ask for anyone to open the door.
      • They do this at just about all hours of the day.
      • Usually someone answers in their pajamas with their hair all messed up and with a very unpleasant confused look on their face like “what?! I owe debt? No, can’t be. You must be looking for someone else.”
      • It is very common for the debtor to straight up lie to the High Court Enforcement Agents and say they are someone else entirely. Or that the actual debtor is unavailable at the moment.
    • But the really exciting episodes are when no one answers the door. Either the debtor simply isn’t home or they are hiding… doesn’t matter. These big debt collector blokes are allowed to just tramps on to the property and look for an open door or window to gain access to the property.
      • Once inside they continue to size up goods that they can repossess to cover the debt.
      • When the debtor arrives or anyone else who lives at the property arrives they are reasonably in disbelief that the agents are inside their property without permission.
      • People make threats, lie, and pull all sorts of tricks to get out of the situation.
    • Anytime a debtor says “I don’t have any money.” The agents calmly reply with “Ok no problem. I’ll just be walking all over your house to find something that will cover the debt.”
      • This of course helps the debtor realize that they aren’t going away. These agents are from the Britain’s High Court and they are tasked with settling the debt that very same day whether it means getting paid in full, setting up a payment plan that the client agrees to, or straight up taking everything of value in the house until it can cover the debt.
  • In multiple episodes they explain that having the agents seize goods is the worst option. Because then those goods get auctioned off and the worth of the goods is diminished by every single person involved.
    • For example: if they seize a car the tow truck driver, the person who owns the lot of where the car will be stored, and auctioneers all have to be paid. And the money they get paid with comes right out of the money made off of the car. So the debtor will lose WAY more money in goods than they would if they just paid the debts off.
    • And sometimes when the Agents are rummaging around in the debtors belongings they find some very interesting items.
      • One episode the Agent Steve Pinner found a plywood box that was sealed with 2-by-4’s and screws. It was the size of an end table, but clearly the debtor was trying to keep it safe so naturally Steve thought there was something worth value in it that he could collect. After using a crowbar to get the box opened, stacks and stacks of cash came spilling out of the box. The agents immediately called the police to investigate and I’m pretty sure the cash was counterfeit.
      • Other episodes they’ve found an entire attic full of Cannabis plants.
      • One time they found a few rifles. And in the UK it is very difficult to legally own a gun so they called the cops on that one too.
  • On numerous occasions the person that owes the debt isn’t the one who borrowed the money.
    • One of the best episodes is when the agents go to a young lady’s apartment at like 4AM to collect a debt incurred through unpaid parking fines.
    • When the young lady opens the door for the agents she is confused at first but quickly realizes where the debt came from. The car is in her name, but she allowed her ex-boyfriend to use her car and he was the one who caused the issue. The agents felt for the lady, but she ultimately was responsible for the money. The agents (who always show tons of patience) agreed to wait a few hours to see if the ex-boyfriend would pay instead of having to make this young lady pay.
    • She called her boyfriend who immediately got really mad. He showed up hours after being called and tried to intimidate the agents (this is very common).
    • The agents as always just stood there stone faced with no emotion and no signs of fear or aggression. They eventually go the ex to pay in cash even though he was petty about it and insisted he count the money instead of the agent. But when the agents went to leave he parked them in. The agents, still cool as cucumbers, called the cops and explained. So the ex panics and started to pull out… Thats when they noticed the ex had slashed their tires.
    • The agents STILL kept their cool and just added the “oh and he slashed our tires” to the 999 call (UK doesn’t use 911, they use 999. If you dial 911 in the UK it goes nowhere). The ex ran off, but the agents had all of his contact info and license plate.
  • My favorite HCEA is Paul Bohill
    • The guy has got to be in his 60’s and although he is almost always accompanied by a much younger Agent, he doesn’t really need to be. You can tell by the way he talks he has so much experience on the job he has seen just about everything a debtor can throw at him.
    • That being said, every HCEA on the show has nerves of steel.
      • Which I guess is a must when you have this job.
      • I mean, these guys break in to people’s homes and when the debtor shows up to find a complete stranger in their house they flip out as if they had no idea this law existed. Meanwhile the agents are always just like “sup, I have this piece of paper telling me you owe 5 grand. Can you pay it or am I taking all your family heirloom jewelry?”
From left to right there is Steve Pinner, Ben Pinner (Steve’s son) and then Paul Bohill.
  • Now, collecting debt isn’t all these agents do. Sometimes they have to enforce evictions.
    • Either a tenant hasn’t paid their rent or the agents are tasked with evicting what the UK calls squatters.
    • The residential evictions are usually sad.
      • Usually the debt collections are humorous, but when someone is evicted by the High Court it is done instantaneously. The Landlords can go through county court which takes time and requires multiple notices to be served, OR they can go through the High Court which is who these agents work for. So these evictions are basically kicking people and families out on to the street.
      • Paul Bohill, the older light haired fellow usually with a beet red face, is one of the nicest Agents. He handles these situations well. One episode Paul stayed for like 13 hours outside this families house until “the council” (basically the UK’s version of Welfare) found housing for the family. He gave them help and went above and beyond his duty. It wasn’t Paul’s job to do that, but he couldn’t bring himself to kick a bunch of kids out on the street.
    • The squatter evictions however are not usually sad.
      • UK law is weird with squatting.
      • According to GOV.UK: “Squatting is when someone deliberately enters property without permission and lives there, or intends to live there.
      • Squatting in residential buildings (like a house or flat) is illegal. It can lead to 6 months in prison, a £5,000 fine or both.
      • Although squatting in non-residential building or land is not in itself a crime, it’s a crime to damage the property.
      • It’s usually a crime not to leave land or property when you’re instructed to do so by:
        • the owner
        • the police
        • the council
        • a repossession order” (enforced by the High Court Enforcement Agents on this show)
      • So where the residential evictions are of people who haven’t paid their rent and they are surprised by the eviction… the Squatter evictions are of drifter type people who are living inside an industrial building… and according to GOV.UK they aren’t breaking any laws.
      • This is just how they live their lives. They set up a literal camp in a non-residential building and when someone of authority tells them to leave they peacefully leave. They pack up and go to the next building without ever breaking the law.
  • Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away is a fascinating factual documentary series full of scenarios you and I will probably never witness.
    • Some of my favorite aspects of the show:
      • Classic reality TV enjoyment of watching real people act like idiots (but this show feels more authentic than American Reality TV)
      • Learning the difference in law between the US and the UK. Then seeing how those differences in law make life very different for their citizens.
      • And lastly watching Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away always reminds me to PAY OFF MY DEBTS!
        • I’m normally a very frugal person and I’ve never missed a payment for anything. My credit is great. But it doesn’t hurt to reinforce that side of my personality.
        • Perhaps you, my listener (or reader) could also benefit from such a lesson.
      • Oh, and I guess I respect how perfect the show’s title is: they literally go to peoples’ houses and say “If you can’t pay we will take your things away.”

THANKS FOR LISTENING (and reading) WHO’D A THUNKERS!!!

CREDIT

I just thought I would include an episode. This episode has a bit of everything: a celebrity, and eviction, and an aggressive boyfriend lol.
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IceCraft Carrier

The content below is from Season 2 Episode 27 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast.

Recommendation Segment

  • This episode features another recommendation from my Fiancée Shannon. Tune in to the audio podcast to hear what she decided to recommend.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • Well who’d a Thunkers, I hope you like history because I have yet another World War 2 episode for you!
    • Today we talk about the story behind the Project Habakkuk. That’s when a Brit named Geoffrey Pyke thought it would be a good idea for the British navy to make an Aircraft Carrier out of ice.
      • Sounds crazy I know.
    • But That was the level of desperation that people were dealing with during WW2. Technology was taking off yet they were faced with the largest scale war that mankind had ever seen.
      • The world atmosphere during WW2 was nuts and that’s why there are so many unbelievable stories to come out of it.
      • A few episodes back I talked about how the American Military was funding the psychologist BF Skinner to train pigeons on how to guide missiles.
      • WW2 is so insane that one time my buddies and I were playing BattleField V (a WW2) game. My one friend made a comment on how the Nazis were so successful in their Blitzkrieg across Europe because they were all given Meth. That’s why their attacks were so fast and how they could fight for 48 hours straight with no sleep.
        • Another friend of mine laughed hysterically and thought he was just joking… But we all assured him that it is a fact. The Nazis weren’t prescribed meth… they were given it like you would give a co-worker a cup of coffee.
        • THAT is how crazy World War 2 was.
    • Now this Aircraft Carrier made of Ice sounds crazy to us now, but at the time it made more sense.
  • Britain is on an island roughly the size of the State of Michigan.
    • Being an island country came with both benefits and draw backs during WW 2.
      • They avoided a land invasion from Germany in 1940 because they are an island nation.
      • But that also means their imported goods all need to come by sea.
    • So Hitler thought if he couldn’t invade them outright that he would cut off their supplies from the outside world.
      • The Nazis had 1,162 submarines (or U-Boats as they were called). They targeted allied supply ships.
      • They used what was called the Wolfpack strategy and it was very effective.
      • The Brits weren’t able to deploy their anti-submarine aircraft because the U-Boats were smart enough to only engage far out at sea… too far for the aircraft of that day to reach.
    • Aircraft Carriers were a good defense against U-Boats. They could transport the anti-submarine planes to where the subs were hiding.
      • Unfortunately with the mass production of tanks, planes, and hand held weapons there wasn’t enough steel to just make more Aircraft Carriers back in Britain.
  • Introducing Geoffrey Pyke
    • Pyke was an orthodox Jew studying law at Pembroke College when WW1 started.
      • But he gave up his studies to become a War Correspondent. He convinced the editor of the Daily Chronicle news to fund a trip to Deutschland in the year 1914. He wanted to get a better understanding of the German people at the time as they prepared for war with Russia.
      • He travelled to Berlin with an American Passport, But it only took 6 days for his suspicious behavior to land him in prison. There he suffered harsh conditions for 13 weeks until he was able to escape.
      • He was able to make it back to Britain and his tale of an escaped prisoner of war became popular among the British people.
    • Leading up to WW2, Pyke was involved in a few projects against the Nazi party.
      • He sent journalist spies to cities across Germany to interview citizens on how they felt about all the antisemitism. He was able to conduct a decent sized poll and gather some significant data. But Pyke was never given the chance to present his findings to Hitler himself… Hitler was too busy invading Norway.
    • Once WW2 was well underway, Pyke set his sights on transporting troops in cold conditions.
      • He was put on a team of scientists and engineers to design a reliable vehicle for transporting troops through snow. It was dubbed operation Plough.
      • Pyke helped design the M29 Weasel that was manufactured by the hundreds in America.
  • So when Britain was faced with this U-Boat problem, Geoffrey Pyke was a likely candidate to find an out-of-the-box solution.
    • In 1942 he envisioned a large iceberg out at sea. He pictured the top of the iceberg cut on a level line for a runway and the middle hollowed out to store planes.
      • Pyke drew up a 232 page document to be sent in a diplomatic bag to the Combined Operation Headquarters. He gave specific instructions that only Lord MountBatten, Admiral of the Fleet should read its contents. Mountbatten (Member of the Royal Family and Royal Navy officer) must have been impressed with the plans because he immediately shared them with Winston Churchill (the acting Prime Minister of Britain at the time).
    • Now Icebergs aren’t Ideal for this.
      • At first, the ice berg AirCraft Carrier seemed like a lost cause. While ice was strong, it was also too brittle to hold up its own weight and easily lost shape under pressure. Ice also melts, which required Pyke to develop a complex cooling system that continuously pumped refrigerant throughout the carrier to keep it frozen.
      • So he and a team of scientist went to work combining wood chips and ice. The result was what they called Pykrete.
  • Pykrete is much less likely to sink than regular ice
    • It also melts at a higher temperature and is much more structurally strong.
    • Pyke had gotten the idea for Pykrete from an Austrian-American Chemist Herman Mark.
      • One of Pyke’s collaborators Max Perutz wrote “Blocks of ice containing as little as 4% wood pulp were weight for weight as strong as concrete. In honor of the originator of the project we called this reinforced ice Pykrete. When we fired a rifle bullet into an upright block of pure ice two feet square and 1 foot thick the block shattered. In Pykrete the bullet made a little crater and was embedded without doing any damage.”
      • As long as the Pykrete stayed frozen, it was as good as concrete.
    • The British Government was short on funds and resources thanks to the U-Boats so the thought was that it would be a lot cheaper to produce a Pykrete Ship than a steel ship.
      • 1 ton of ice take less than 1% of the energy to produce than 1 ton of steel.
      • Lord Mountbatten was sure the Pykrete idea would work. He presented the idea to generals, Ministers, and even President Roosevelt.
  • Project Habakkuk
    • Although it is my opinion that “IceCraft Carrier” would have been the best name for it… The official name was Project Habakkuk.
    • Churchill approved the idea, code-naming it Project Habakkuk, a reference to the biblical book of Habakkuk: “… be utterly amazed, for I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” (Habakkuk 1:5, NIV)
      • The ship was supposed to be 1.2 Kilometers long (that is over 13 football fields) and 180 meters across (that is almost 600 feet).
      • They decided to build a pykrete prototype in Patricia Lake, Alberta to test the effectiveness on a large scale model.
  • The prototype required a constant refrigeration system to keep cool. If the temperature of the ship rose above three degrees Fahrenheit, it would start to sag and lose shape. Although the pykrete mixture made the prototype stronger than ice, it also required much more insulation.
    • And negating the one major advantage of Project Habakkuk, Steel would still have to be used to insulate the carrier, which would have drained more resources and made it still more expensive. Plus, because the of the sheer size of this behemoth it would be slow and very hard to maneuver.
    • Even though I didn’t see it in any of my sources, I imagine they would only be able to use the craft in colder climates. I mean imagine trying to sale the IceCraft Carrier to the Bahamas!
    • Wood was also in short supply during the war, and building a pykrete aircraft carrier would have negatively impacted paper production. Which the British needed at the time. At the beginning of the war they were cranking out propaganda pamphlets and dropping them all over Europe.
    • Project Habakkuk was great in theory, but terrible in practice.
    • The British turned their attention to more practical projects. What remains of the prototype still lie at the bottom of Patricia Lake along with an informational plaque (thanks to the Alberta Diving Council).
  • The idea of an enormous IceCraft Carrier is really cool to think about, but terribly impractical.
    • And thank goodness they never went through with it. Could you imagine working in a place where it never got above 3 degrees Fahrenheit (that is -16 degrees Celsius)?
    • Thanks for listening Who’d a Thunkers! Until next week!

CREDIT

It may seem odd that I included this video, but without it this episode wouldn’t exist. I am obsessed with this guy’s ear cleaning videos and he compares a dense earwax material that is made denser by ear hair to Pykrete. One minute and 30 seconds in to the video he talks about Pykrete and Project Habakkuk and after hearing it I immediately started researching lol.
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Clear Channel: Why Radio Sucks

The content below is from Season 2 Episode 26 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast.

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • Tune in to the Podcast to hear my Fiancée Shannon’s cameo for this episode’s recommendation segment.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT!

  • Unless all other options have been exhausted, I never listen to the radio anymore.
    • Why? Because the radio sucks! Commercials are way too frequent and even worse, the diversity of music is virtually gone.
    • At any given moment the same 5 songs will be playing on the radio. Whether those 5 songs are good or not makes no difference as listeners will be sick and tired of them within the week due to overplaying.
      • No one likes to hear the same 5 songs over-and-over again all week long.
    • Aside from the few remaining independent radio stations still left in America (of which there are about 88 left), American Radio is TRASH!
      • Side note: I actually hosted a weekly show on one of those independent stations for 2 years.
        • Every Saturday from Noon to 2PM, if you were within about 50 miles of Slippery Rock Pennsylvania you could tune in to the Hangover Hangout radio show hosted by yours truly!
        • WSRU is still around today and I’m very happy about that.
    • But why is American Radio trash? It wasn’t always that way.
    • I remember when I was a kid in the 90’s and early 2000’s radio was still a local medium where local DJ’s would play music they loved and fit in the ads necessary to keep their station afloat.
    • How did FM radio in America go from locally selected music and content to this homogenized cookie cutter pop music crap?
  • The main culprit for the trashifying of American radio is a little company called Clear Channel Communications and this is their villainous Origin Story
    • Back in the early 1970’s, one of the companies founders B. J. “Red” McCombs owned a used car lot called Red McCombs Automotive group. He was a savvy car salesman who saw each and every car on his lot as a unit to be sold for money, like most used car salesmen.
    • Well Red then ran in to an investment baker by the name Lester Lowry Mays. Red knew how to grow a business and how to sell units. But it was Mays who had the vision.
      • They were two different businessmen types who were smart and had hustle. Financially they were the perfect pair. Financially speaking they were a success story, but their success came at a great cost. And if they applied their talents to another industry, history would probably just remember them as successful business men, if at all… but the industry they chose to sink their teeth into was radio.
      • Ever since Pittsburgh’s own KDKA (the first licensed commercial radio broadcasting station) went live in 1920, radio has been a medium between one of the greatest creations of mankind; music, and the people who enjoy it.
      • Personally I see music as one of the truly magical creations of our species and Radio was the first medium to make it so virtually everyone could enjoy music.
      • But when these two business men set their sights on the music industry, they didn’t see a medium that carried our magical creation of music to the masses… they only saw money.
      • Red saw units to be sold (every 60 seconds of air time was a unit with potential to sell more ads) and Mays saw an opportunity to blow up Red’s sales on a massive scale. The result of these two men and their company Clear Channel Communications would have on radio was devastating.
    • In 1972, Mays founded the San Antonio Broadcasting Company, which became Clear Channel Communications. The company purchased its first radio station, KEEZ-FM in San Antonio in 1972. He and his business partner Red McCombs bought a second San Antonio Station, WOAI, in 1975. This station was considered a “clear channel” station because no other station operated on its frequency and its 50,000-watt signal could be heard hundreds or even thousands of miles away on a clear night. Over the next several years, the company bought ten more struggling radio stations and turned them profitable, usually by switching their formats to religious or talk programming. The company went public in 1984. In 1988, the company bought its first television station.
    • By the mid-90s, Clear Channel Communications owned 43 radio and 16 television stations.
      • So our two business men looking to financially exploit the radio business and take every drop of musical integrity it had were still owners of a modest radio business. That was until the Telecommunications Act of 1996. You see, the enactment of the 1996 Telecommunications Act deregulated radio, and allowed companies to own as many as 8 stations in one market, a huge change from the previous 40 station per company limit.
    • After the TeleComm Act of 1996 significantly deregulated the broadcast industry, Mays and his company purchased 49 radio stations and an interest in New Zealand’s largest radio group. A merger with Jacor Communications, based in Covington, Kentucky (who had bought the former broadcast side of Nationwide Insurance a year earlier), brought the operation of 450 stations to the Clear Channel portfolio. Within eight years, and with an influx of capital investment from the private-equity Griffith Family, Clear Channel had accumulated ownership of over 1,200 radio stations and 41 television stations in the United States, one of the nation’s leading live entertainment companies, and over 750,000 outdoor advertising displays.
      • So Clear Channel went from 43 stations in 1996 to over 1,200 stations in 2004… it was huge.
      • The TeleComm Act of 1996 gave them the legal wiggle room they needed to take over the country’s radio stations, but it was Clear Channel’s business model that made them soar to heights that other communications companies never hit. Instead of playing music and finding ads to play in between songs, Clear Channel saw it the other way around. The ads came first, and the music was just there to keep the listener tuned in for as long as they could… so they would hear the most advertisements possible.
      • And what did Red and Mays do? Well, like true business men, they sold out.
  • Selling Out
    • On November 16, 2006, Clear Channel announced plans to go private, being bought out by two private-equity firms, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners for $26.7 billion including $8 billion in debt.
    • On September 16, 2014, Clear Channel announced they “became” iHeartMedia or as you have probably heard many times over: iHeartRadio. They changed their name to “reflect the company’s success in becoming a one-of-a-kind multi-platform media company with unparalleled reach and impact.”
      • To me that sounds like Dark Vador changing the name of his evil government to make is sound nicer while simultaneously gloating over his total conquest.
        • Something like “We have changed our name from the Galactic Empire to iSpaceRulers to better encapsulate our total domination of every planet within the galaxy. Oh, and remember to download the DarkSide app on your smartphones to get all the latest updates. You can even stream the empirical marches straight to your device. Thank you, and remember to tune in to iSpaceRulers for all your greatest hits.”
  • When Clear Channel was taking over the radio industry in America, the Disc Jockeys (DJ’s) weren’t happy about it either.
    • While listeners were recognizing how overplayed and homogenized the radio stations of America were becoming, the DJ’s were having it affect their everyday lives.
    • DJ’s used to play songs that they enjoyed. They set the vibe for long road trips and daily commutes alike. But when Clear Channel became the boss the DJ’s were given a set playlist by corporate execs. They had to strictly adhere to the playlist regardless of their professional opinions.
      • Besides the quality of radio content going down, so did the DJ’s salaries.
      • The wealth went straight to the guys at the top and not much trickled down the skill-less guys who just pushed a button, no artistic talent involved.
  • Back in 2005, in the documentary “Before the Music Dies” (a documentary about Clear Channel’s take over of radio) Dave Mathews predicted “the excitement of the invention of the radio… that energy will go somewhere else and find a place to blossom there. And probably someone like clear channel will find a way to exploit it.”
    • His prediction was close. Thanks to iPods and then the internet as a whole, the love of music is more accessible than ever. When greed casted too much shade for music to grow and it started to whither…. Music and the love of music DID find another place to blossom: the internet.
      • But now iHeart radio is going after internet music with iHeartRadio.com and the iHeartRadio app….
  • I guess this is a tale as old as time: art gets taken advantage of by business and business flourishes. Then that art either moves on to a different medium or it transforms all together.
    • I like Dave Mathews take on it: “that energy will go somewhere else and find a place to blossom there.”
    • I have to agree. No matter what happens to music, it will live on.
    • My generation (millennials) might have fond memories of a decent radio scene when we were kids, but any younger generation probably doesn’t have any such memories.
    • Now we get in to cars and either pass the aux cord or connect our phones via Bluetooth to play our own curated playlists for each other.
      • And I’m not complaining, that makes the experience even more personal.
      • It is just a shame we can’t just turn a dial and let professional DJ’s set the vibe for us the way they want to.

Thanks for listening Who’d a Thunkers!

  • If you are reading or listening to this then you stuck around after my 2 week break from the podcast and I thank you.
    • Jamaica was great! I needed the R&R, but I couldn’t wait to get back to cranking out podcast episodes.
    • Thanks for listening. Until next week!

CREDIT

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Pigeons and People

The content below is from Season 2 Episode 25 of the Who’d A Thunk It? Podcast.

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • Record of Ragnarok
    • Last week’s recommendation segment was on Netflix’s live action drama about Norse Mythology. THIS week’s recommendation has a similar title, but a very different plot.
    • Record of Ragnarok is a brand new anime series with only 12 episodes available right now.
      • I know Anime is a super niche genre, but when I realized my Fiancée Shannon was enjoying the show as much as I was I thought it was worth recommending.
      • Unlike most anime series, Record of Ragnarok has a SUPER simple plot:
        • All the gods (Norse, Greek, Hindu, etc.) have grown tired of humanity and want to wipe us all out to start fresh. But at the last second before Zeus bangs his gavel declaring all humanity be eliminated, a Valkyrie from Norse mythology suggests they have a tournament (first side with 7 victories wins).
        • The gods pick their line up of their 13 best warriors and humanity can pick from their best 13 warriors (live or dead). Season 1 only covers the first 3 fights.
    • It is simple, fun, and definitely for adults due to the violence, language, and overt sexualization of Aphrodite lol.
This character from Record of Ragnarok is Adam… as in Adam and Eve. He fights Zeus wearing nothing but a leaf for decency and brass knuckles.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • Pigeons in World War 2
    • If you have taken a Psychology course either in High School or college then you definitely have heard of the renowned Psychologist B.F. Skinner.
      • Skinner was an American Psychologist who studied and conducted experiments out of Harvard University.
      • Early on he worked with rats and discovered that if the rats were given a treat every time they pressed a lever they would press the lever progressively more. He called it Operant Conditioning.
    • Skinner applied his understanding of animal behavior in World War 2, and this may sound like a made-up story, but it is very real.
      • This time, instead of using rats, he used what some New Yorkers call flying rats: the pigeon. How did pigeons play a role in WW2 you ask?
      • Well the Germans had created a modern marvel of destruction: the V2 Rocket.
        • Developed in Germany from 1936 through the efforts of scientists led by Wernher von Braun, the V2 Rocket was first successfully launched on October 3, 1942, and was fired against Paris on September 6, 1944.
        • Soon after Germany’s development in rocket technology, most other players in WW2 were slinging rockets of their own.
    • While rockets proved to create a devastating amount of destruction, they seldom hit their mark.
      • While the militaries of today use GPS guided missiles, back in WW2 times they were 30 years away from GPS technology.
      • Soldiers tasked with launching rockets had to use math to calculate the
        • amount of fuel necessary,
        • the angle the rocket should be launched,
        • wind speed,
        • and possible heavy weather encountered during the rockets approach.
      • That is a lot to calculate. As you might guess the soldiers calculating trajectory on the ground were wrong quite a lot.
      • Remember how I said the first V2 rocket was launched at Paris in 1944?
        • Well, quoting the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum: “the rocket was neither accuratereliable, nor cost effective. On 7 September 1944 the first two operational rockets were fired against Paris, but both failed due to premature cutoffs.”
    • While the Germans were deploying unreliable spies in London to report back on how accurate their rockets were, the US was coming up with more unorthodox ideas for missile guidance: Project Orcon.
      • B.F. Skinner was confident that his Operant Conditioning research could be beneficial to the folks trying to guide missiles. Although many were skeptical of Skinner’s plan, the National Defense Research Comittee granted Skinner $25,000 (about $320,000 today)
      • You see, similar to the rat pressing a lever to get a treat, a pigeon could be trained to pet a specified target in order to be fed. (See video below titled Project Orcon).
    • Skinner made that specified target in to what the US Military needed to destroy, enemy battleships out at sea.
      • He then strapped his trained pigeons inside the head of missiles with 3 screens that showed what the missile was currently aiming at (see image below). Depending on which screen and where on the screen the pigeon pecked, the missile would direct course toward where the pecks were being registered by sensors installed in the screen.
        • On paper it was genius. Pigeons can process visual information 3 times faster than humans and cost virtually nothing to produce. Once properly trained, the pigeons were extremely accurate hardly ever missing their targets during simulated runs.
      • But in October 1944 the project was scrapped. The Defense department thought money was better spent elsewhere like the Manhattan Project, AKA the Atomic Bomb which cost $1.9 billion($23 billion today).
      • Defense officials couldn’t bring themselves to entrust billion dollar rocket projects to pigeons.
        • Skinner himself said that the project was scrapped not because it didn’t work, but because no one took them seriously.
  • Skinner’s Superstitious Pigeons
    • That brings me to the real reason I wanted to do this episode. You see I’ve known about the Missile Guiding pigeons for quite some time. I like to tell people about it while I’m out drinking and socializing. The topic is bizarre, exciting, and involves WW2. I love to talk WW2 over a few brews.
    • But there was another experiment that Skinner conducted after the war that really intrigued me. I recently heard about Skinner’s Superstitious pigeons.
    • I stumbled on an old video hosted by the esteemed evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.
      • In the video Dawkins explains how Skinner studied pigeons’ behavior in 1947 by placing them in a controlled environment (rather a small transparent box) and feeding them whenever they pecked a button.
      • But then Skinner set the feeding apparatus to feed the pigeon at random. Whether the pigeon pecked the button or not had no bearing on how often the food was dispensed.
    • One might think the pigeons just sat back and waited for their food to be given at random times, but that is not what happened.
      • The vast majority of pigeons in the experiment developed what Skinner himself called superstitious behavior.
      • An example would be that if a pigeon just happened to lift up its right wing when food was dispensed then that pigeon associated the right wing lifting with food. The result was that the pigeon would continuously lift its right wing over and over again until the food was given again. This behavior persisted and further enforced that pigeons false association.
    • What interests me is the implication of these superstitious behaviors and what it means about human behavior.
      • If you think you can’t be compared to a pigeon in this sense you are wrong. We humans are subject to this superstitious behavior just as we are subject to Operant Conditioning.
        • Just as the rats kept pressing the lever for food; Give a patient suffering from pain a button that dispenses morphine in to their bloodstream. It is only a matter of time until they are pressing the button much more than necessary sometimes to the point of overdose.
        • Just as the pigeons displayed nonsensical behavior to be given food; we humans perform all sorts of nonsensical rituals to avoid pain and obtain pleasure.
          • Probably the main difference between humans and the pigeons is the lengths we will go to in our superstitious pursuits. Where pigeons simply make displays with their bodies, we humans create entire industries and institutions around our superstitious beliefs.
    • Some examples of human superstitious behavior
      • Tarot cards
      • Palm readings
      • Knocking on wood for good luck
      • saying “bless you” when someone sneezes
      • Don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s back
      • Black Cats crossing your path
    • You may think those examples I gave are for children or those more gullible than you, but I would disagree.
      • University of Iowa’s Psychology department provides a definition:
        • Superstitious behavior arises when the delivery of a reinforcer or punisher occurs close together in time (temporal contiguity) with an independent behavior. Therefore, the behavior is accidentally reinforced or punished, increasing the likelihood of that behavior occurring again.”
    • I would argue superstition has invaded just about every facet of our society and given the chance, could destroy it.
      • I’ll end this episode with an example: remember the Salem Witch trials? An entire town allowed themselves to be overtaken with superstition.
        • By the end of the Salem witch trials, 19 people had been hanged and 5 others had died in custody. Additionally, a man was pressed beneath heavy stones until he died.

Yep! I’m ending this one on a cautionary note. Don’t allow yourself to be overtaken by superstition. Build up your mental defenses against it by continuing to learn about the world around you.

Thanks for listening Who’d a Thunkers!

  • DISCLAIMER
    • I’m going on Vacation to Jamaica and will not be producing another episode of Who’d A Thunk it? Until July 15th.
    • Sorry… not sorry lol. I’ll be enjoying genuine Jamaican jerk chicken in a hammock over looking the Caribbean sea.

CREDIT

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Electric Scooters EVERYWHERE

The content below is from Season 2 Episode 24 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

Recommendation SegmenT

The guy in the middle with the Redskin’s shirt and jeans is Thor. The guy on the left leaning back in the chair is Loki. Everyone else is forgettable in my opinion.
  • Netflix’s Ragnarok
    • Netflix has this hokey drama series about a small family who moves to the small town of Edda Norway.
      • Supposedly Edda was the last city to denounce ancient Norse mythology and so the town is full of Norse Myth characters.
      • One of the things that I like most about the show is that it doesn’t fall into the same annoying teen drama traps that all American Teen shows tend to do.
      • It is about Norse Mythology and a tiny bit about modern environmental issues. That is it.
      • The rest is just fun. Oh, and I love their Loki character. He is written well.
      • Check it out!

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT!

  • As I mentioned in the last episode, I just went to my buddy Shane’s wedding. It was a BLAST!
    • Meeting up with college friends is always fun, albeit dangerous.
    • But the reason I bring it up again is that that wedding trip inspired this episode’s main event: electric scooters
    • You see the wedding was held in Columbus Ohio.
      • I always thought I hated Ohio, but really, it isn’t that bad of a place. I mean, at least it isn’t NEW JERSEY!! … gross
    • But there was 1 major difference I noticed when I travelled from a Pennsylvania city (namely Pittsburgh) to an Ohio city… THERE WERE ELECTRIC SCOOTERS EVERYWHERE!
      • And it started to grind my gears
      • more importantly, it jogged an old memory of watching a short YouTube video made by HBO’s Vice on the topic (see the first video below).
      • I remembered the scooters were wrapped in controversy, and I felt an urge to explore, understand, and eventually blurt out my opinion of that controversy on this podcast…. enjoy!
I’m sorry, but these people just look like dorks to me.
  • The Basics
    • Before I get into all the other adult perspectives, I feel it is important to represent my inner child of which I am still very well connected to and say:
      • These things look very fun!
      • I was always more of a bike kid and usually snickered at the scooter kids. But I must admit, if it didn’t require me to download an app on my phone I would have hopped on one of those scooters I saw in Columbus and immediately ridden circles around my fiancé like a blissful idiot.
    • Not to mention these things go 15 miles per hour!
      • Think of all the dangerous antics you could pull on a standing vehicle that goes 15 mph.
    • It seems like a fun way to spend at least part of your daily commute
      • Plus You don’t have to drop them off anywhere in particular (hence why they are left everywhere
        • I swear, given the opportunity to do so, adults will leave their toys lying about just like a toddler that doesn’t know any better.
    • But you can’t argue with that convenience.
      • Instead of the bikes that you see in my city of Pittsburgh that have to be taken back to specific stations at the end of use, these scooters were designed to be left anywhere!
  • “So people love these Scooters because they are fun, convenient, and relatively cheap, is that what you are saying?”
    • No
      • That is not what I am saying.
      • I was simply highlighting the few redeemable qualities these sidewalk hazards have before I explained my more grumpy-old-man take on these things.
    • The adult in me says these scooters are like garbage left out on the sidewalk.
      • One of the rules you technically have to agree to before using one of these bad boys is you will always wear a helmet. You are also supposed to be mindful of others and never ride on sidewalks. And while all the promotional videos show riders being kind, courteous, and wearing helmets safely… in the real world, people are rude, ride predominately on sidewalks, and never wear helmets. Because, well, we are people.
      • So older people tend to hate these scooters while young healthy people enjoy them.
        • I picture the cliché old man sitting on a bench shaking his head in disgust at a bunch of young whippersnappers zooming around on eScooters… then I realize I AM THE OLD MAN!!! I’m the one with that perspective lol
  • But are they even legal?
    • One of the eclectic scooter manufacturers Unagi posted a comprehensive article about the legality of electric scooters both in each American state and internationally. It is called “The Comprehensive Guide to Electric Scooter Laws” You can find it at UnagiScooters.com.
      • They summed up the legal world’s take on these eScooters quite nicely:
      • “Is your scooter legal? In a massive, growing industry, the opaque nature of the answer to this rather straightforward question borders on the comedic. Laws vary from year to year, from month to month, from state to state, and from country to country… Lawmakers and enforcers across the world have been wrestling the elephant sized conundrum of shared, electric scooters since Bird hit the scene in 2017. While the shared scooter phenomenon created a low carbon, cheap, and efficient means of transportation for millions of commuters and joy seekers worldwide, it also spurred a deluge of complaints from metropolitan pedestrians. Although scooter sharing has its benefits, it also brings about a number of obvious costs: sidewalk congestion, traffic obstruction, de-beautification, and accidents. The backlash stemming from these costs has caused governments on the city, state, regional, provincial, and in some cases, federal level – worldwide – to evaluate the social implications of electric scooters.”
      • I got to give an electric scooter manufacturer props for being so upfront and transparent about the product they make. I don’t know much about Unagi, but if they made an article like this they must have an amazing PR team. Great move on their part. Respect.
    • I wanted to highlight some of the states’ laws on these scooters
      • First, Ohio since it is the state that inspired this episode:
        • In Ohio, scooter riders don’t need a license. You can ride them on the street or bike lanes. You don’t have to wear a helmet and you don’t need insurance.
        • not many restrictions
      • Pennsylvania: my home state and where the vast majority of my listeners are from.
        • Electric scooters are illegal to use on roads in Pennsylvania because “these vehicles do not comply with the equipment standards and inspection requirements for motor vehicles, and cannot be titled or registered in the commonwealth,” according to the Pennsylvania department of transportation (we call it Penn DOT). “In addition, these vehicles cannot be operated on Pennsylvania roads and sidewalks.”
        • Notice the stark difference between the lack of regulation in Ohio vs the all-out ban in Pennsylvania
        • That is why I seldom saw them… I need to get out of this state more often lol…. as long as it isn’t New Jersey… gross
      • Wyoming cracked me up
        • “There is no current, available information on electric scooter law in the state of Wyoming.”
        • Right, because no one in Wyoming is riding a scooter 25 miles to their nearest convenience store in a snow squall LOL.
        • Hardly anyone lives in Wyoming. It is cold, there is unpredictable weather, and a wolf would see a yuppy on one of these scooters and think “hey! meals on wheels!”
          • That’s your dad joke for the day
The many eScooter companies. Screen shot taken from PolyMatter’s video “Why Scooter Startups are Worth Billions”
The parent companies. Screen shot taken from PolyMatter’s video “Why Scooter Startups are Worth Billions”
  • Economics- These scooters are out there making big money.
    • Allow me to throw some numbers at you
    • As explained by the YouTuber “PolyMatter” (see the second video below) there are 3 main companies: Lime (Google), Bird (whose CEO used to run Uber), and Spin, but there are many more out there.
      • Tons of companies are trying to cash in on this market (or at least they were before Covid-19, but I’ll get to that later)
    • The vast majority of the actual scooters are the Mi Electric Scooter model which costs about $250 when purchased in bulk.
      • Most scooters charge consumers $1 at the start of the ride and add $0.15 every minute of the ride.
      • With an average ride costing $3 and most scooters being used about 10 times a day that is $30 dollars a day per scooter.
        • Factoring in that these companies pay people to easily sign up through their phone to charge the scooters’ batteries at night to be paid an average of $7.50 per scooter, that is a $22.50 net income of a scooter per day.
    • With maintenance and theft affecting about 1% of total scooters, that means a scooter pays for itself in under 2 weeks… this has been going on since September of 2017.
      • So just think of all the profit these scooter tech companies are making.
SouthPark’s episode on scooters
  • Lastly, I want to talk about why these things made national news and even South Park made an episode about these scooters
    • It was September of 2017. Santa Monica California was ground zero for the eScooter infestation.
    • Overnight the company Bird had dumped tons of these scooters on sidewalks throughout the city.
    • Was it legal? Kind of, as these scooters fell into a legal gray area. These private transportation companies like Uber, Lyft, and now all these scooter companies act fast using technology so that their product isn’t necessarily illegal because the slow-moving gears of our legal system just can’t keep up.
      • It is a flawed system and ends up making both public officials and the general public mad. But we are a free market society and the outright targeting of a business that isn’t harming anyone is not allowed.
      • Even though the car ridesharing industry (namely Uber) was able to blow up so fast with virtually no legal blowback, our legal system learned a thing or 2. A lot of states and cities were ready to shut down these scooters that is why states like Ohio have hardly any regulations while Pennsylvania only tolerates the use of electric scooters on private property.
    • So the business model for these transportation tech companies is to distribute so fast and so absolutely that some groups of people get used to them and then those people vote on election day to keep the scooters and Ubers in their lives.
      • Uber, Lyft, and now these scooter companies forced themselves into our lives. It doesn’t get more American than that business model, but THAT is why some people hate them so passionately.
      • Weeks after these scooters arrived people started dumping them in dumpsters, waterways, and some people even got so fed up that they defecated on them.
      • That’s right. They were committing the crime of Scooter Pooping!
    • But the Covid 19 virus gave the industry a massive blow because no one was leaving their house for an extended period of time.
      • There are still scooters out there, but just like the great American Buffalo, their herds aren’t nearly the size as they once were.
  • In conclusion
    • I don’t think these scooters are that big of a deal. They look fun and relatively harmless.
      • That being said, I live in a state where I don’t have to deal with them. That is because Pennsylvania’s laws are weird and are constantly being pulled and tugged between Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and the rest of the state filled with rednecks and Amish people. We aren’t even technically a state. We are the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Like I said, weird.
  • Welp! That’s my episode on scooters!
    • Hope you enjoyed Who’d a Thunkers! Until next week.

CREDIT

In this video the narrator says that the scooters were banned by the city of Columbus, but I assure you they were there just 5 days before this podcast episode will be released.
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ACHOO

The content below is from Season 2 Episode 23 of the Who’d a Thunk it? Podcast.

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week’s recommendation segment is for Mead!
    • Mead is wine made from honey. It is the oldest form of alcoholic beverage.
    • According to researchgate.net
      • The earliest archeological evidence of mead production dates back 7,000 years.
    • Mead tastes amazing and is one of the simplest alcoholic beverages to make.
    • A few weekends back I decided I wanted to have mead during my Memorial day celebrations.
      • The bottle I picked up was made by Chaucers. It came with a note on it saying it goes really well with IPA beer.
      • The drink they suggested was 1/4 Chaucers mead and 3/4 of a bitter IPA
      • I thought that was nuts and how could it possibly taste good, but I mixed them and it was superb!
      • The sweetness of the mead lessened the bitterness of the IPA while also bringing out some of the more hidden IPA ingredients.
    • Mixing Mead and Beer is called Braggot (AKA Bracket, Bragawd, or Braggaut)
      • Braggot was popular among Viking communities especially.
      • Mead used to be very expensive while Ale was less expensive.
        • So drinkers used to mix the two in order to get the sweet mead taste without having to shell out quite as much money.
        • According to most of my friends and family, Braggot isn’t for everyone. LOL a lot of my friends didn’t like it, but I love it.
        • Just be careful. Mead has somewhere between 10 and 15 percent alcohol content and IPAs usually have somewhere between 6 and 9 percent alcohol content. Mixing the 2 together makes a powerful drink that will put you on your butt before you know it… so sip slowly.
    • Mead is the reason for the term Honeymoon.
      • Mead was a special drink. Irish newlyweds used to be given a bottle of mead on their wedding night and were meant to drink it for 1 full moon cycle afterwards. That is where the term Honey-Moon comes from.
    • So if you are of age, go out and get yourself a bottle of mead!
      • And if you are feeling even more adventurous, mix it with a strong IPA.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • This week I wanted to do an episode about the:
    • Autosomal-Dominant
    • Compelling
    • Helio-
    • Ophthalmic
    • Outburst syndrom
      • Which when made in to an acronym spells ACHOO!
  • A shorter term used for the syndrome is the Photic Sneeze Reflex
    • I have this reflex and that means that going from a dark place to a bright place makes me sneeze.
    • The first time I shared this with anyone was in college back in Slippery Rock University.
      • My buddy Shane Whitacre mentioned how annoying it is that he sneezes every time he goes outside. Everyone else in the room had no idea what he was talking about except for me.
        • Side note: One of the reasons I brought up Shane is because I’m going to his wedding this weekend and I’m very excited to see my good friend start this next part of his life.
      • Up until that moment I thought bright lights made everyone sneeze and Shane thought he was the only person in the world that had the reflex.
      • And that is pretty common. Everyone I’ve met who also has the reflex either thinks they are unique or thinks it happens to everyone.
      • I recognized an interesting phenomenon and realized it had a fun social affect too. That’s why I decided to look in to it!
  • Great minds have pondered the reason and implications of the Photic Sneeze reflex for thousands of years
    • In the 3rd Century BCE, Aristotle hypothesized in his Book of Problems that the sun creates enough heat inside the nose that sweat forms and triggers the sneeze.
    • In the 20th Century, Sir Francis Bacon wrote how Aristotle’s hypothesis couldn’t be right, because when the eyes are closed the Photic Sneeze Reflex isn’t triggered.
      • With this information, Sir Bacon deduced that the reflex must involve the eyes.
      • He hypothesized that perhaps the eyes water and the moisture from the eyes trickles down to the nose where the sneeze is triggered.
      • But it turns out that the process of your eyes watering and pooling up enough moisture to stream down your face takes much longer than the immediate photic sneeze reflex. Plus, there is no evidence that tears cause sneezing.
  • Derek Muller from the YouTube channel Veritasium hypothesized that perhaps the reflex is an evolutionary trait
    • When we sneeze we are expelling tons of dangerous bacteria that can grow and thrive in dark places.
    • He thought that maybe our cave dwelling ancestors benefitted from only sneezing when they were outside the cave to sneeze where those potentially harmful bacteria would be killed by UV rays.
    • But Derek ended up throwing out his own hypothesis when he said there would be a much larger percentage of the population with the reflex if it were an evolutionary thing.
  • The fact is that somewhere between 18-33% of the world population has the gene that makes your brain think it needs to sneeze when actually all it needs to do is tell your pupils to constrict.
    • Allow me to explain:
    • The Trigeminal nerve (the largest cranial nerve) is responsible for most of the feelings in your face.
      • The three branches of the Trigeminal nerve are…. hard to pronounce. There is the Ophthalmic branch that goes to the eye
      • And the other branch that involves the Photic sneeze reflex is the Maxillary nerve that goes to the nose.
    • The current theory is that the intense signal being sent from your brain and eye Ophthalmic nerve causing your pupils to constrict crosses over in to the Maxillary nerve and triggers your nose to sneeze.
      • In layman’s terms, us sun sneezers have our wires crossed.
    • The Crossed Wires hypothesis is the best the medical community could come up for a long time, but there is no solid evidence to support it until just recently.
The Trigeminal Nerve
Trigeminal Nerve branches/divisions
  • Genetics have pin pointed the gene responsible for the Photic Sneeze Reflex and it fits very nicely with the crossed wires hypothesis
    • Located on the 2nd chromosome there is a single letter representing a gene.
      • For non sun sneezers this letter is a T, but for us circus freaks going around sneezing at the giant flaming ball in the sky that letter is a C.
      • This was discovered by the company 23&Me. They got about 10,000 people to go online, and fill out if they had the reflex or not.
      • Then those 10,000 participants submitted their DNA to 23&Me.
      • That data was analyzed and they found this 1 letter of DNA had the most significant correlation with how the participants answered their photic sneeze question.
  • Why did it take thousands of years to figure this out?
    • well scientists try to focus on important problems like curing AIDS or Cancer.
    • While some people were curious as to why some of us sneeze at lights and others don’t, the scientific community was fine with keeping that harmless question on standby.
    • Sneezing isn’t really that harmless unless you are doing open heart surgery or operating some complex vehicle.
      • Side note, sun sneezes have almost made me crash my care like 3 times. Driving down the highway at 80 miles per hour and having the sun peak over the horizon for me is a dangerous combination.
  • But anyway, that’s my episode on sneezing LOL
    • I’m a sun sneezer and I’m not particularly proud of it, but I’m certainly not ashamed of it.
  • Thanks for listening Who’d a Thunkers!
    • Until next week 🙂

CREDIT

I used Derek Muller’s video heavily for this video.

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My Mother and Microwaves

The content below is from Season 2 Episode 22 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast.

Just as a side note, I tallied up all 63 episodes and their run times. There are now over 16 hours of Who’d a Thunk It audio content available across about a dozen platforms. People from all over the globe, 54 countries, have tuned in and I couldn’t be happier about it!

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • Right now on Netflix (in the US) you can watch season 1 and 2 of Dirty John
    • My sister Cas is the one who showed me this series and I’d like to say Thanks Cas!
    • The show is a true-crime series based on the concept of “love gone wrong.”
    • I’ve only seen a few episodes of season 1 so far, but the show is full of deception and manipulation.
    • To go over the plot would spoil too much for you. Let’s just say it is a fascinating watch with a great cast.
    • Season 1 is based on a podcast about a true story and I highly recommend you check it out.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • I recently spent some quality time with my family back in York County Pennsylvania
    • While at my mom’s I wanted to warm up a bowl full of rice, vegetables, and venison meat. I was quickly reminded of the fact that my mom no longer owns a microwave and isn’t planning on getting one anytime soon.
    • I know as a kid she told me she wasn’t sure about the science behind microwaves. She wasn’t convinced that enough research was conducted in regards to the potential harm microwaves pose to humans.
      • Nowadays she simply says she isn’t a fan of the technology and prefers the conventional oven and stove anyway.
    • Although my mom simply prefers life without microwaves (and I can respect that) I know there are people who genuinely believe microwave ovens are harmful.
      • So I decided to do some digging
  • So let’s talk about Electromagnetic radiation and their direct affect on the body
    • When you pop a bowl of frozen broccoli in the microwave you’ve probably chosen your method of cooking out of convenience.
      • Because using a microwave takes a fraction of the time and effort of a conventional oven or stove.
    • The reason cooking by microwave is so fast and easy is due to electromagnetic radiation.
    • Electromagnetic Radiation (ER) is a kind of radiation including visible light, radio waves, gamma rays, and X-rays, in which electric and magnetic fields vary simultaneously.
      • Depending on the wavelength, the ER has different levels of intensity. Radio waves are some of the lowest while gamma rays (used in medicine to kill cancer cells) are some of the highest level of intensity.
      • Let me offer a comparison: Microwaves use the same size of wave (or frequency) as wifi.
        • The International Telecommunication Union designated 2.4 GHz specifically for Microwave ovens. The decades since that designation, other devices started using that unlicensed spectrum and now microwaves share a very similar frequency with your WiFi.
        • But don’t worry, your WiFi isn’t going to cook you like a hot pocket.
        • HowToGeek.come explains: ” A Wi-Fi router sends its signal out omnidirectionally. That is, it sends it in every direction in a rough circle as far as it can. Your microwave, on the other hand, sends its signal in a single direction, roughly towards the center of the oven. That signal continues until it hits a wall, bounces and comes back (at a slightly different angle). It isn’t a perfect system, due to the nature of radio waves, and so every microwave has hot and cold spots. That’s why microwaves have spinning plates.”
      • But those microwave signals don’t leave your microwave oven due to a marvelous invention called a Faraday Cage
        • Faraday cage or Faraday shield is an enclosure used to block electromagnetic fields. A Faraday shield may be formed by a continuous covering of conductive material, or in the case of a Faraday cage, by a mesh of such materials. Faraday cages are named after scientist Michael Faraday, who invented them in 1836.
        • You can actually see the Faraday cage on your microwave. When you look in to see how your food is cooking, you will see checkered lines partially blocking your vision. Those lines are the conductive material keeping he microwave signals from leaking out of your microwave oven.
          • So don’t ever try to get rid of that cage to get a better look at your food. that cage is keeping you safe and without it, the microwaves could do serious damage to your most sensitive tissue: your eyes.
        • Without the Faraday cage there are potential health hazards: In the early days of microwave ovens, specifically those used in commercial establishments, there was a worker or who deliberately defeated the door interlock system so that the door could be opened and closed without restarting the oven each time, thereby saving time. Leaving the door open on a microwave means the Faraday Cage is not enclosing the Electromagnetic Radiation. Reports were that the person found that they gradually lost the use of the arm they used to place and retrieve food from the oven, due to cumulative thermal damage over time.
    • So my mom’s fears aren’t entirely unfounded. Direct contact with ER can be harmful to humans overtime.
      • But these hazards are well known and well tested safety measures have been put in place to prevent them from happening.
    • Also I wanted to note, specifically with my dad in mind, Pacemakers used to be negatively affected by microwaves. The signals from microwaves used to interfere with Pacemaker signals, but modern pacemakers have security checks against that now.
      • So Pacemaker people don’t worry. Your ticker is perfectly safe while you are warming up noodles in the nuker.
This video is has the simplest possible explanation of how a microwave works.
Found on r/shittyFoodPorn, this is microwaved rye bread with American cheese topped with Slim Jims. #HowNotToMicrowave
  • But what do microwave ovens do to our food?
    • well simply put, the microwaves cause the water molecules in food to vibrate which creates heat. That heat is what cooks the food.
    • The claim is that this heating process damages the proteins in foods and therefore destroys nutrients that would otherwise be beneficial for our health.
      • … that’s true actually. Microwaving food does damage proteins and does destroy some nutrients in food…
        • but so does any form of cooking.
      • That is the nature of thermochemistry. Whether you are cooking your food by boiling, roasting, or microwaving, you are going to be altering the state of that food.
      • If you boil broccoli, a lot of nutrients are going to leak out in to the water you are using to boil. Then that water just ends up in the drain.
        • If you microwave that broccoli, the vegetable spends less time being cooked/exposed to heat and there is less water used.
        • Microwaving that broccoli actually leaves your vegetable less nutrient deficient than boiling it. That is, unless you drink the left over boiled water afterwards like an absolute mad man.
          • That is the claim of the BBC’s Earth Lab, but a 2003 study by Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture claims broccoli retains much more nutrients when lightly steamed compared to being microwaved… contradicting information is frustrating, but I’m afraid it is the reality of science sometimes.
            • If you want ALL the nutrients, just eat your broccoli raw like a real man!!! lol
    • Here is a list of a couple foods and beverages that don’t go well in the microwave
      • As Foods You Should Never Put In The Microwave (mashed.com) states these foods are bad in the microwave:
        • A mug of water
          • The water super heats without boiling then when it comes in to contact with something (tea bag for example) the water boils all at once and can explode
        • Breast Milk
          • Breast milk heats unevenly and could create hot spots that will scald your baby.
        • Chili Peppers
          • Peppers give off fumes of steam that you don’t want to come in contact with.
        • Eggs
          • Eggs steam up until they explode
        • bread
          • Bread gets all rubbery and gross after microwaving
        • leafy greens
          • Kale and other leafy greens can spark if microwaved
        • leftover takeout
          • Most takeout containers are not microwave safe and some have metal handles… metal doesn’t do well in microwaves.
        • Frozen meat
          • If the heat doesn’t distribute evenly, you can end up with hot spots and still-frozen spots, and the growth of dangerous bacteria.
  • Now let me shine a light on a few Actual health risks of using a Microwave
    • Well microwaves do worsen the negative affects of a poisonous material that has invaded nearly every facet of our lives: plastics.
    • Plastic hasn’t just polluted our oceans and landscapes, scientists have found traces of plastic in nearly every animal on the planet. That especially includes us human beings.
      • Instead of putting this in my own words, I felt it best to read from FoodNetwork’s article Is It Really That Bad to Use Plastic in the Microwave? :
      • “The evidence is mounting that plastic food containers are bad for our health. The two key culprits are the man-made chemicals Phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA), which are often added to plastic to help it keep its shape and pliability. Known as “endocrine disruptors,” these substances have been found to affect hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, which can cause reproductive and other medical problems. They may be especially dangerous to children, potentially impeding normal growth and development, according to the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units.”
      • “Basically, heat can cause the BPA and Phthalates in plastics to leach into your food. That means – yeah, sorry – you should avoid microwaving food and beverages in plastic. Instead, transfer them into microwave-safe glass or ceramic containers. And those “microwave safe” plastic dome covers? The FDA says they’re OK, but, if you need to cover your food, it’s probably safest to use wax paper, parchment paper, a white paper towel or even a ceramic plate.”
      • “In general, steer clear of plastic with recycling codes 3 (phthalates), 6 (styrene) and 7 (bisphenols) except for those that are marked as “biobased” or “greenware,” the AAP cautions. The Environmental Working Group stresses that, when storing food, if you have to use plastic, you should avoid anything marked with recycling 7 and use 4 instead. “#1 and #2 are BPA-free, but some researchers do not recommend their reuse,” EWG notes. Meanwhile, Harvard Health advises that plastic takeout containers and grocery-food tubs (the kind used for margarine or yogurt) are generally not microwave-safe; prepackaged microwave food trays should not be reused; old, scratched or cracked containers may be especially apt to leach chemicals and should be tossed; and microwaving food in plastic bags is a big no-no.”
  • In conclusion
    • Microwaves can be a great tool for cooking, but be sure to follow the instructions for safety reasons.
      • NEVER tamper with a microwave. That includes the Faraday Cage.
    • After looking in to the technology of the microwave I understand why my mom doesn’t have one.
      • When using a microwave you add a new level of risk when cooking.
      • With conventional ovens and stoves you just have to worry about heat, but with microwaves you have to worry about Electromagnetic Radiation.
      • For people like my mom who are fine with cooking without a microwave and the conveniences it brings, it makes sense to just eliminate that specific risk from their kitchen.
      • I personally love cooking by microwave and I’m fine with the risks.

Thanks for listening/reading Who’d a Thunk It?

Until next week Who’d a Thunkers!

CREDIT

BELOW are a bunch of videos I found about the supposed dangers of microwaves. I picked these videos specifically with my mom in mind.

First video is long but sums up how microwaves were invented and how they actually brought frozen hamsters back to life.

Comedy Central’s Your Worst Fears Confirmed hosted by Natasha Vaynblat made a video that reminded me of my mom’s weird microwave fears.

Quite possibly the greatest podcast in the world: The Joe Rogan Experience hosted Neil deGrasse Tyson many times. During one of the episodes with Neil (a world famous Astrophysicist), he and Joe discuss the fears surrounding Microwaves and the science that says those fears are unwarranted.

Leave it to the BBC to deliver the most clear, concise, and reasonable video on the subject.

MOM, WATCH THIS short VIDEO.

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Lawn Darts

The content below is from Season 2, Episode 21 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast.

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • My recommendation this week is for everyone enjoying a nice Memorial Day Party this upcoming weekend.
    • I know cornhole is all the rage for outdoor leisure games right now, but I recommend corn hole’s cooler predecessor: Horse Shoes.
    • My brother Jake and I played a game of Horse Shoes this past weekend in my mom’s backyard. We didn’t know any rules so we just made up our own point system and it was a really good time.
    • Horse Shoes may not be as convenient as placing corn hole boards on the lawn, but I argue digging a pit, hammering some rebar in the middle, and filling it with sand is well worth it.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • This episode is about Lawn Darts
    • This past weekend I went home to visit family. At one point, across a sea of other family members my Uncle Troy points over to me and asks “Hey Zeb, you ever hear of Lawn Darts?!”
    • I knew right then and there that this weeks episode was going to be about the bizarre story of how an ancient weapon was turned in to a backyard family game and then was banned by most of north America.
    • THIS IS a story from AMERICA
  • The Plumbata
    • Some sources say the Plumbata dates back to around 500 BC.
      • Plumbata meaning “lead-weighted” (plumbum = “lead”), Plumbatae were designed to be issued to infantry soldiers in the ancient world.
      • Another name for this ancient war dart was Latin “Martio-barbuli” (“little barbs of Mars”).
    • It was a weighted dart used most notably by the Romans.
      • The design was rather simple: The tip was barbed as to make it more difficult for the enemy to extract it from their flesh and the flesh of their horses.
      • The shaft had a lead weight attached to it in order to increase the amount of force applied when the dart reached its target upon falling back down to Earth.
      • The back of the dart had feathers attached to stabilize the dart for aiming.
    • Shield bearing warriors would carry 5 of these weighted darts.
      • When enemy forces closed in on Roman legions, the mid and rear flanks would step back and throw the Plumbata under handed in droves.
      • The weapons was comparatively cheap to produce and the technique was so easy to carry out that virtually any soldier could be trained to throw them.
    • The efficiency of these Martio Barbuli legions was so high that kings from all over the ancient world began to praise these dart wielding soldiers.
      • They were very effective at slowing down large groups of enemy forces and of course they dealt their fare share of killing blows

THEN AMERICA CAME ALONG

  • In the 1950’s a Dentist name Lawrence Barnett from Fort Edward NY invented Lawn Darts.
    • He had no idea his game had been a literal weapon of war when he decided to market it as a family game to be enjoyed by American families during events like this upcoming weekend: Memorial Day.
Click and drag the white circle across the image
Click and drag the white circle across the image
  • The decades that followed saw thousands of injuries and even more outraged parents
    • In response to these injuries the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the toy for a number of years.
    • The ban was specifically due to the injuries incurred by children.
    • Lawn Dart and Jart companies went to court over the battle and came to a compromise with the CPSC.
    • There was a regulation stating that lawn darts could be made and sold as long as they were marketed only as a game for adults. A warning label had to be placed on each package alerting consumers to the danger they posed, and the darts couldn’t be merchandised in toy departments or sold in toy stores.
    • These regulations accomplished very little.
    • Toy Stores and Departments ignored the regulations and sold the Lawn Darts anyway.
      • and Manufacturers failed to put those warning stickers on their product
    • Most importantly, the injuries didn’t stop
  • This brings us to April of 1987.
    • A man by the name of David Snow buys a 3-in-1 game set.
      • He only wanted to use the Volleyball game, but the store didn’t have single sets for volley ball. So he bought the combo pack with no intention of using the Lawn Dart game that was included.
      • This purchase would be one of the biggest regrets of his life.
    • MentalFloss.com breaks down the incident:
    • “One Sunday afternoon soon after, his nine-year-old son and some of his neighborhood friends found the Jarts and began tossing them around in Snow’s backyard. One kid tossed his Jart too far and too high, sailing it over the backyard fence and into the front yard, where Snow’s daughter, seven-year-old Michelle, was playing with her dolls. The Jart came down right on her and, with what researchers estimate as 23,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, penetrated her skull. She collapsed, was rushed to the hospital, and was pronounced clinically dead three days later.”
      • 23,000 pounds per square inch is about the force a 700 pound saltwater crocodile can bite. According to a 2012 study by Gregory Erickson of Florida State University, it is the the most powerful bite ever recorded of a living animal.
      • That is what killed David Snow’s daughter in April of 1987.
    • No surprise David Snow was in shock for quite some time, like any parent would be.
      • But David wasn’t like most parents. He was very smart and a very determined individual.
      • He was an aerospace engineer from Riverside, California.
      • Unable to focus on his work, David poured himself in to getting justice for his daughter Michelle.
    • David started researching Lawn Darts.
      • It is always good to note that researching before the internet was something entirely different. It took a lot more time, effort, patience, and know-how.
      • But that didn’t stop David. He found out about the ban on Lawn Darts years earlier and also knew how much said regulation was being ignored.
      • He pressed the CPSC to crack down on the game and ban it entirely
  • The CPSC’s statisticians claimed that only a few dozen ER visits were caused by Lawn Darts. They couldn’t authorize a ban based on such low numbers of ER visits.
    • David insisted their calculations must have been incorrect based on the evidence he saw. He urged the CPSC to tweak their counting.
    • Due to simple human error, a mass amount of Lawn Dart/Jart injuries had been missed by the CPSC statisticians.
      • There had been 6,100 ER visits directly caused by Lawn Darts over an 8 year period…
      • Of those ER visits, 81% were kids under the age of 16. With half of that being under the age of 10
      • The vast majority of Lawn Dart injuries ER visit injuries were to the head, face, eyes, and/or ears. Most injuries caused permanent injury or disability.
      • PEOPLE WERE GOING BLIND
  • The ban went through
    • In 1988, David Snow was putting in work lobbying for his cause. He participated in TV and newspaper interviews. He even met with President Reagan’s assistant for consumer affairs. His work paid off.
    • At the same time an 11-year-old girl in Tennessee was laying in a coma from a lawn dart injury, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted 2 to 1 in favor of banning lawn darts.
      • They were removed from stores the week before Christmas of 1988 and banned from further sale.
  • Now Lawn Darts are just a distant memory of the 80’s for most people
    • I’m sure some people still have an old set somewhere.
    • There is an underground Jarts tournament in the Dayton Ohio. It was reported on in the book Sports from Hell: My Search for the World’s Dumbest Competition.
      • But I’ve been to Dayton, Ohio… I was in Dayton for 5 minutes during a road trip pit stop and during those 5 minutes I witnessed a break in. Best you just avoid the place altogether.
  • Now my opinion on the ban:
    • Normally I would be against government intervention.
      • Banning something just leads to banning more and more things and consenting adults should be allowed to do what they want, when they want.
      • However, this wasn’t just impacting adults. It was injuring CHILDREN and in rare cases, killing them.
      • This was an ancient weapon for pete’s sake!
      • The commission tried to regulate the game to make it so only adults played it, but the manufacturers ignored it and the result was that kids were suffering.
        • I have no sympathy for the Lawn Dart industry. It seems they dug their own grave on this one.
      • If someone wants to play lawn darts that badly, they can make a set of their own and play on their own time and property.
      • And it’s not like the world is a much worse place without Lawn Darts… There are tons of other games to chose from.
    • Like I said in at the beginning of the episode, just play some Horse Shoes!
  • Thanks for listening Who’d a Thunkers! Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend.
    • My work is forcing me to work on Memorial day, but I’m still going to a party on Saturday where I play to enjoy a nice game of Horse Shoes with my friends and family.

CREDIT:

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The Nazi Hunting Wizard

The following content is from Season 2 Episode 20 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week’s recommendation segment is simple:
    • anything Sir Christopher Lee worked on or inspired.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT: Sir Christopher Lee

  • To me and my generation,
    • he was the Sith Lord Count Dooku from Star Wars and the Evil Wizard Saruman from Lord of the Rings.
    • It turns out his real-life story was much more legendary than either of those fictional characters combined.
    • This episode is about Sir Christopher Frank Tarantini Lee.
    • Just as a heads up to the Blog Readers: I use a TON of images for this episode. I just kept finding amazing images of this man.
      • Plus, there were a ton of memes claiming extraordinary facts about him that I wanted to double check.
  • So let us start by going over his Guinness Book of World Records:
    • Most screen credits for a living actor in 2007 after being acknowledged to have appeared in an incredible 244 film and TV movies.
      • When he passed in 2015 the number had gone up to 282 acting credits (according to IMDB)
      • Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of his acting credits.
        • HERE is a list of Lee’s filmography over the years according to Wikipedia
      • Some of his most notable roles:
        • Francisco Scaramanga from James Bond: the Man with the Golden Gun
        • Saruman in The Lord of the Rings series 
        • Frankenstein’s Monster
        • Kharis the mummy in The Mummy 
        • Count Dracula
        • Lord Summerisle in the British mystery movie The Wicker Man
        • the diver Martin Wallace in disaster movie Airport ’77
        • Count Dooku from Star Wars
        • Count de Rochefort in a couple Three Musketeers movies
        • Willy Wonka’s Dad
        • Emperor of China,
        • the Grim Reaper
        • Lucifer
        • Grigory Rasputin
        • Ramses
        • Vlad the Impaler
        • hosted SNL
        •  Russian Commandant Alexandrei Nikolaivich Rakov in Police Academy 7
          • Those are just a small fraction of the roles he played. I picked them because they all sound like really fun roles to play.
    • the Tallest actor in a leading role (a record he would go on to share with Wedding Crashers star Vince Vaughan).
      • Lee was 6’5″
    • most films with a swordfight by an actor
      • having dueled in 17 films with foils, swords, and even billiard cues
      • he’s been in everything from cutlass fights on the decks of waterlogged pirate ships to rapier duels in seventeenth-century France to taking on a couple guys one-third of his age with a lightsabers and a fistful of force lightning on the deck of an Imperial Star Destroyer
    • In 2004 he helped set the record for First spoken dialogue in a massive multiplayer online role playing game after lending his vocal talents to the game Everquest II,
    • he played the role of Diz/Ansem the Wise in Kingdom Hearts to set the record for Oldest videogame voice actor.
      • That same year also saw Lee knighted for services to drama and charity before being awarded a Bafta fellowship in 2011.
    • In 2008, he was recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s Most connected actor living after software developed by the University of Virginia that mapped the working relationship between 1,250,000 actors and actresses in the Internet Movie Database determined that Lee was “at the centre of the Hollywood universe”.
      • His networking skills must have been amazing.
  • But even legends have to start out somewhere
    • Lee was born in England during the year 1922.
    • His father was Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Trollope Lee
      • (1879–1941)
      • Lee’s father, was a distant relative of Robert E. Lee and was multi-decorated war hero who’d served as a Colonel in the 60th King’s Royal Rifle Corps during World War I and the Boer War.
    • And his mother, Countess Estelle Marie
      • (née Carandini di Sarzano; 1889–1981)
      • She was an Italian Countess and descendant of Charlamagne
      • One of Lee’s ancestors on that side was the Papal Secretary of State who refused to attend the coronation of Napoleon and is buried in the Pantheon in Rome next to Raphael
      • Her visage was apparently so striking that her portrait was painted by almost a dozen famous Italian painters
    • Lee studied Classics at Wellington College. He was a champion squash player, an amazing fencer, and spent his spare time playing on the school hockey and rugby.
    • In 1939 Lee quit his job as a desk clerk to enlist in the Finnish Army against the Soviet invasion of Finland. He didn’t see much combat by the time he returned to England in 1940, but this means he did technically fight in the WINTER WAR.
    • When Lee did return to England it was to Enlist in the Royal Air Force to fight against the Nazis.
      • He enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1940 and trained with de Havilland Tiger Moths. Just before he was to have his first solo flight, he was diagnosed with a failure of his optic nerve that caused him headaches and blurred vision. Devastated, he was told he would never fly again. But that wasn’t the end of his military career, far from it…
      • He became an intelligence officer in WW2 and was shipped out to North Africa to join the Long Range Desert Patrol (later known as the British SAS)
        • If you have any knowledge of military powers of the world, or have seen a few movies, or even played a Call of Duty game, you know the SAS are some hardcore warriors.
          • Bear Grylls was in the SAS
          • and Christopher Lee was in LRDP the group that came before the SAS
        • Although Christopher Lee himself seldom spoke about his time in the military, history shows that the LRDP were some of the most elite soldiers in WW2.
        • While in Africa they took convoys hundreds of miles behind enemy lines (braving the formidable Sahara Desert) to sabotage Nazi Luftwaffe airfields with espionage, quick precise attacks, and of course… explosives. The unit Christopher Lee fought in (Long Range Desert Patrol) was very effective.
        • After his time in the LRDP, Lee became a Special Operations Executive. This would later be known as Winston Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (it almost sounds like the British were saying “sorry, not sorry” about being on the winning side of WW2.
          • These Special Operations Executives lead small team assaults on Germany’s top secret nuclear weapons sites in Norway.
          • They worked with Eastern European rebel forces to destroy Nazi supply lines that would have given them a chance to defeat the Soviets.
    • Later in the 2000’s Lee was asked by a reporter about his time in the military. Lee (6’5″ legendary war veteran famous for playing some of the most terrifying roles in cinematic history) stopped dead in his tracks, turned to face the reporter and gestured for him to come closer. … This man has played DEATH and he his now focusing all his attention on this reporter that is about half his height.
      • Lee asked “can you keep a secret?”
      • to Which the reporter eagerly said “YES!” Expecting Lee to finally open up about his combat experience.
      • At this Lee leaned down and whispered in his ear “so can I,” and just walked out the room.
    • Records show that when Lee retired from the Military as a Flight Lieutenant in 1945 he was personally decorated for battlefield bravery by the Yugoslavian, Czech, Polish, and English governments. He was also good friends with the Former President of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Josip Broz.
  • After the war, Lee started his long career of acting in 1948.
    • Nearly 10 years later in 1957 Lee got his first big hit “The Curse of Frankenstein” where he played Frankenstein’s Monster.
    • In 1958 he played one of his most iconic roles in Dracula, playing Count Dracula.
    • In 1959 he played the Mummy Kharis in the movie The Mummy
    • Then in 1974 Lee played Francisco Scaramanga, the main villian from James Bond The Man with the Golden Gun
Lee looks cooler than cool.
  • Even though he played the villian… Christopher Lee WAS James Bond.
    • Although Lee didn’t get an official credit for inspiring the character, Ian Fleming (coincidentally, Lee’s step-cousin), has admitted that Lee’s days as a spy are what inspired him to create the ultimate super-spy, James Bond
    • Ian Fleming and Lee fought together in the SOE (Special Operations Executives) during WWII.
      • … he WAS James Bond
  • Lee was obsessed with Lord of the Rings
    • Out of the entire cast of the Lord of the Rings movies, only Lee met the Author J.R.R. Tolkien.
      • In a 2010 interview with Cinefantastique, Lee described meeting Tolkien “quite by chance.”
      • “I met him with a group of other people in a pub in Oxford he used to go to, The Eagle and Child,” he said. “I was very much in awe of him, as you can imagine, so I just said, ‘How do you do?'”
    • Because he was a massive fan of the books (quote: “greatest literary achievement in my lifetime.”), Lee was determined to be involved in any screen adaptation.
      • So in the 90’s he started trying out for other Wizard roles.
      • By 1997, he landed the role of wizard Olwyn in the TV series The New Adventures of Robin Hood.
      • When he heard Peter Jackson was making the now-famous Lord of the Rings films, Lee sent him a picture of himself dressed as a Wizard (robes and all) with a note saying “This is what I look like as a Wizard, don’t forget this when you cast the movie.”
        • I love this story because it humanizes Lee and makes you realize he had weird quirks like being a MASSIVE Tolkien fanboy.
  • I’m just imagining these two terrors of cinema giggling together like school boys at slapstick comedy in the form of Looney Toons.
Imagine being so cool you turn down Swedish Royalty. I’ve met Swedish women and they are DROP DEAD GORGEOUS!
  • Lee’s Music Career
    • Going back to Lee’s collegiate education on the classics, he was a classically trained vocalist.
    • When he was 88 years old he came out with an album about his ancestor Charlemagne called “Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross”
    • He played with Manowar and Rhapsody.
    • His single “Let Legend Mark Me as the King” was written by some Judas Priest band members.
Aside from the content of his words, I am in awe by HOW he speaks.
I had to include an image of Count Dooku
  • Miscellaneous Accolades
    • Oh, Lee’s also a master at golf being the only actor to be a member of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the most prestigious country club in the world.
    • He was married to Birgit Kroencke (a Danish Supermodel for 54 years.
    • He was a Commander of the Order of St. John’s of Jerusalem
      • The Order of St John, short for Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem and also known as St John International, is a British royal order of chivalry constituted in 1888 by royal charter from Queen Victoria and dedicated to St John the Baptist.
    • Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire
    • Received the the World Award’s lifetime achievement award presented to him by Mikhail Gorbachev in 2003
    • Also was awarded the Unicef Award of 2012 and the Cinema For Peace Award in 2014, which he received from Angelina Jolie
Order of Saint John
  • His characters have executed both Charles the First of England and Louis the Sixteenth of France.
  • He’s portrayed Englishmen, Egyptians, Spaniards, Transylvanians, Frenchmen, Greeks, Poles, Chinese, Indians, Italians, Wallachians, Romans, Germans, Arabs, Gypsies, and Russians, played the lead role in the biography of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
  • He speaks English, German, Russian, Swedish, Italian, and French, can do any English accent he wants, and sings everything from opera and death metal in a hardcore bass voice.
    • Lee’s movies have grossed more than any actor ever – his top five alone grossed $4.4B
    • he filmed every single scene in Star Wars 3 in a single day
    • he’s never received a Best Actor nomination BUT he’s been in 4 movies nominated for Best Picture
    • Lee belonged to three stuntman unions and did all of his own stunts.
      • He even has cool stunt injury stories
        • He once busted his face smashing head-first through an actual plate glass window for a scene.
        • He injured himself falling into an open grave while portraying Dracula, and once had his hand slashed open during a drunken sword fight with Golden Hollywood Era star Errol Flynn.
  • He was a living legend
    • You might point to his incredibly impressive ancestry or perhaps his military training, but after learning about his life you have to realize he was different from most people in a spectacular way.
    • I would have loved to have met him, maybe have a glass of brandy with the man.

CREDIT

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DeepFake

The content below is the script of Season 2 Episode 19 of the Who’d a Thunk it? Podcast.

Recommendation Segment

  • Levar Burton short story podcast
    • Reading was always hard for me. I’m not entirely sure why but reading words off of a page and trying to comprehend them without my mind wandering to 5 different topics was (and still is) one of the most difficult tasks for me to accomplish.
    • But there was a magical TV program that ran when I was a kid that helped me realize how special reading could be.
    • Reading Rainbow!
      • Take a look, it’s in a book. A READING RAINBOW!
      • For 21 seasons Levar Burton hosted Reading Rainbow, a program that focused on the showing kids that reading could be an amazing experience. Something school NEVER did for me.
      • Burton said in an interview with the Huffington Post:
        • Reading Rainbow‘ was the most used television resource in our nation’s classroom. In 2009, it was [cancelled] due to No Child Left Behind. That government policy made a choice between teaching the rudiments of reading and fostering a love of reading.”
      • So yeah, where school made reading out to be a boring chore that had to be learned, this PBS show for kids made it interesting.
        • Shows like Bill Nye the Science Guy did something similar for the field of science.
      • But that’s not all Levar Burton is known for. He played Geordi La Forge on Star Trek the Next Generation and Kunta Kinte on possibly one of the most culturally moving TV miniseries of all time: Roots.
    • I made this recommendation segment to tell you about Levar’s current on-going project: Levar Burton Reads. A podcast where Levar Burton, the man who showed entire generations to love literature, reads short stories to you for free!
      • And they aren’t kids stories. His main audience is made up of people like me in their late 20’s all the way up to their 40’s.
      • If you are looking to hear a new story for 40 minutes to an hour, check out the Levar Burton Reads. It is sure to give you a slice of nostalgia while you are at it.

Now for the main story:

  • What is DeepFake?
    • Did you know I can make Donald Trump say anything I want?
      • Or at least I can convince you and a decent amount of the public of such a thing.
    • Using a technology known as DeepFake, I can create a convincing video of any celebrity.
    • Ian Sample from the Guardian writes : “The 21st century’s answer to Photoshopping, deepfakes use a form of artificial intelligence called deep learning to make images of fake events, hence the name deepfake. “
  • Progress of Technology
    • DeepFakes started out in Academia in labs dedicated to the field of Computer Vision back in the 1990’s. For a long time the technology was easy to spot and wasn’t really fooling anyone. Plus it was very expensive to create requiring some serious computer hardware and graphics processors to pull off.
      • But just as it is with most technology, DeepFake was improved little by little and now everyone with a SmartPhone can create deepfake videos through a number of downloadable applications.
    • Geoffrey A. Fowler from the Washington Post writes:
      • “A few years ago, deepfake videos — named after the “deep learning” artificial intelligence used to generate faces — required a Hollywood studio or at least a crazy powerful computer. Then around 2020 came apps, like one called Reface, that let you map your own face onto a clip of a celebrity. … Now with a single source photo and zero technical expertise, an iPhone app called Avatarify lets you actually control the face of another person like a puppet. Using your phone’s selfie camera, whatever you do with your own face happens on theirs. “
    • TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher elaborates on the massive growth of this technology.
      • “Run out of Moscow but with a U.S. HQ, Avatarify launched in July 2020 and since then has been downloaded millions of times. The founders say that 140 million deepfake videos were created with Avatarify this year alone. There are now 125 million views of videos with the hashtag #avatarify on TikTok. … its competitors include the well-funded Reface, Snapchat, Wombo.ai, Mug Life and Xpression…”
  • what it is being useD FOR
    • Deepfake is used to create images of people who never existed.
      • Why? You might ask. Well similar to the example I gave in Season 2 Episode 2 “Falun Gong: the Cult You Should Be Watching Part 2.” Where the cult had fake social media accounts made to sway the opinion of American voters. The profile pictures they used were DeepFake people who never actually existed. Instead their faces were computer generated.
    • Audio deepfake is also a lucrative form of deception it seems. Scammers use deepfake to mimic people’s voices and authorize financial transactions in their name.
    • Ian Sample from the Guardian: “Many are pornographic. The AI firm Deeptrace found 15,000 deepfake videos online in September 2019, a near doubling over nine months. A staggering 96% were pornographic and 99% of those mapped faces from female celebrities on to porn stars. As new techniques allow unskilled people to make deepfakes with a handful of photos, fake videos are likely to spread beyond the celebrity world to fuel revenge porn. As Danielle Citron, a professor of law at Boston University, puts it: “Deepfake technology is being weaponised against women.” Beyond the porn there’s plenty of spoof, satire and mischief.”
    • Now one of the newest uses of DeepFake is DeepFake Geography
      • That may sound harmless, but geographic maps from satellites are a MAJOR part of modern warfare on our planet.
      • I have close friends that went to school for geo-mapping and now when I ask what they do for a living they are legally obligated to give me frustratingly vague descriptions.
      • Now that it is possible for DeepFake AIs to manipulate maps all over the globe… I would imagine it is turning heads of some very important people
      • An article published just last month on April 23rd 2021 to the website SciTechDaily.com writes:
        • “In 2019, the director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the organization charged with supplying maps and analyzing satellite images for the U.S. Department of Defense, implied that AI-manipulated satellite images can be a severe national security threat.”
      • So this technology shouldn’t be taken lightly. It doesn’t just have the capability to tarnish the reputation of a few celebrities. It has the potential to affect our National Defense.
        • Professor Lilian Edwards, a leading expert in internet law at Newcastle University said it perfectly: “The problem may not be so much the faked reality as the fact that real reality becomes plausibly deniable.”
    • What it COULD be used for:
      • Now take a moment and ponder what sinister things this technology could be used for. …
      • Sure it is fun when you are showing your little baby cousin how to use the face altering filters on snap chat or Facebook messenger.
      • But what about when a malicious organization hacks in to media outlets and makes a fake presidential address to the nation?
      • I don’t mean to be a fear mongerer, but it would be foolish to not make others aware of real-world possibilities.
      • Blackmail, politics, fraud, heck with so many working from home DeepFake may even be used to make it appear as if someone is at their desk when they really aren’t.
    • Now the applications of DeepFake aren’t all malicious. Actually there are quite a lot of positive uses for DeepFake
      • Microsoft is working on a way to have DeepFake help the blind by describing the world around them.
      • It can be used in artistic expression
      • DeepFake has been used to enhance movies and assist with acting.
      • And of course DeepFake has made some hilarious memes.

CREDIT