Mr. Big

The content below is from episode #152 of the Who’d A Thunk It? Podcast

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Joel Edgerton (left) plays an undercover cop and Sean Harris a suspected child killer in gripping Netflix drama The Stranger. 

  • This week I recommend you watch The Stranger on Netflix


********SPOILERS AHEAD****************

  • The Real Crime
    • Daniel James Morcombe (19 December 1989 – 7 December 2003) was an Australian boy who was abducted from the Sunshine CoastQueensland on 7 December 2003 when he was 13 years old.
      • Morcombe was abducted from an unofficial bus stop under the Kiel Mountain Road overpass in the Woombye district of the Sunshine Coast approximately 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) north of the Big Pineapple on Sunday, 7 December 2003. Witnesses reported seeing Morcombe at approximately 2:10 pm under the overpass. Morcombe planned to catch the 1:35 pm bus to the Sunshine Plaza Shopping Centre for a haircut and to buy Christmas presents, but the bus had broken down. When a replacement bus eventually arrived, it did not stop, because it was behind schedule and the stop was unofficial; the driver radioed the depot for another bus to go and pick up Morcombe. The driver and other witnesses later reported seeing two men near Morcombe. When the second bus arrived three minutes later, Morcombe and the men were gone.
        • Morcombe’s disappearance was one of the most extensively investigated crimes in Queensland’s history. By 12 December 2008 rewards of A$250,000 from the Government and A$750,000 donated privately had been offered.
    • Eight years later, Brett Peter Cowan (born 18 September 1969), a former Sunshine Coast resident, was charged with Morcombe’s murder. In the same month, DNA tests confirmed bones in the Glass House Mountains were Morcombe’s. On 13 March 2014, Cowan was found guilty of the murder,and was sentenced to life imprisonment for indecently dealing with a child and interference with a corpse.
    • Brett Peter Cowan(born 18 September 1969) is an Australian murderer and child rapist.
      • The 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe’s abduction led to an eight-year investigation involving various suspects.
      • Cowan was living in the town of Beerwah around the time of Morcombe’s disappearance. He was approached by police because of his criminal history and his proximity to the area in which Morcombe was last seen. Just days after the disappearance, however, he denied his involvement. A former police officer believed Cowan to be suspect from just one encounter: he stated that “Look, if he’s not good for that, he’s good for something. I left with the distinct impression of guilt.” A police interview with Cowan was conducted in July 2005 in the Gold Coast. Detective Tracey Barnes, who handled the interview, asked Cowan if he would admit being involved and he responded with “probably not”
      • As a result of these investigations Cowan led under cover police to a potential burial site. He was charged with the murder that same month and Morcombe’s remains were discovered days later on 17 August. Cowan was sentenced to life imprisonment, (being eligible for parole in 2031) on 13 March 2014 in a trial that attracted worldwide attention. Cowan had two previous convictions for sexually abusing children, the earliest dating back to 1987
  • The Movie
    • In 2022, an Australian crime thriller movie based on the events surrounding Daniel Morcombe’s murder and more so the investigation into his murderer was released titled The Stranger. It was written and directed by Thomas M. Wright.
    • In the movie “The Stranger,” actor Sean Harris stars as Henry Teague (the criminal based on Brett Peter Cowan) and actor Joel Edgerton, also one of the film’s producers, plays Mark Frame, an undercover cop tasked with getting the truth out of Teague years after the crime.
    • The movie is mostly about the investigation and operation to get Teague/Cowan to confess to the murder of the boy.
    • Australian police create a VERY elaborate sting with multiple undercover cops acting as a fake organized criminal enterprise. The undercover cop character Mark Frame is the one that works the most with Teague/Cowan.
    • If the audience is unfamiliar with the Daniel Morcombe case (as most American viewers likely will be unfamiliar) than the movie has a big twist in the end.
    • It starts out with Teague being recruited by Mark Frame into the organized criminal group. They go on multiple jobs together to gain Teague/Cowan’s trust.
    • As the audience watches they realize something is a bit off in more ways than one. First, you realize that Mark Frame isn’t who he says he is and that gradually comes out as he is an undercover cop… but you aren’t sure why, you think maybe he is a rat agains the organized crime group.
      • At the same time you realize the character you’ve been watching from the very beginning, the Teague/Cowan Character is creepy as hell and has a disturbing past he wants to keep secret from the organized crime group he is trying to become a part of.
    • Then of course you realize Mark Frame isn’t trying to rat out the organization, he is trying to get Teague/Cowan to confess.
    • As Mark Frame and Teague/Cowan go on fake crime runs together it becomes increasingly creepy.

Just to try and help you the reader keep things straight: Joel Edgerton (left) plays Mark Frame, the undercover cop. And Sean Harris (right) plays the Teague character based on the real-life child molester&murderer Brett Peter Cowan.

  • The movie the Stranger 2022 was first released at the Cannes Film Festival and had a short run in the theaters in Australia before it was released on Netflix in October of 2022. It is still on Netflix in the US and was on the Top 10 list of movies for weeks.
    • Leslie Katz from CNet writes:
      • The film is a spare, perfectly paced psychological thriller that explores the uneasy friendship between Teague and Frame, as well as the formidable burden and cost of keeping one’s true identity a secret, as both men do. 
    • It won some recognition andwas nominated for 11 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards this year, including best film, best direction, best lead actor, best supporting actor, best supporting actress and best cinematography, a much deserved recognition of the movie’s lyrical visuals, which build the moody suspense.    
    • The movie wasn’t created just from news headlines and research. There was a book The Sting: The Undercover Operation That Caught Daniel Morcombe’s Killer written by a crime reporter by the name Kate Kyriacou. The book goes into great detail about the undercover operation the Queensland police pulled off to get Cowan to confess.
    • What sets this story apart from other investigation stories is the elaborate procedure.
      • A covert police operation that had been used in Canada drew the attention of an investigator involved in Morcombe’s case. The procedure, known as Mr. Big, consists of police officers who pose as members of a corrupt criminal gang to gain the confidence of the alleged suspect, enlisting the suspect’s participation in an escalating series of often elaborate fictional crimes, particularly theft, prostitution and the drug trade. Once the suspect’s trust has been gained, the police persuade the suspect to confess to the earlier, real crime. In this case, an undercover police officer, posing as a crime boss known as “Paul Fitzsimmons” or “Fitzy”, befriended Cowan on a flight to Perth in April 2011. Fitzsimmons gained the trust of Cowan and the two became friends. Due to the absence of any physical evidence, a confession by Cowan was needed. Over the following months, Cowan’s gang of friends initiated him through an array of fake criminal scenarios. Cowan was issued a subpoena for his alibi in Morcombe’s case; however, he denied any involvement. In August 2011, at an interview at the Perth Hyatt Hotel, an undercover officer gained Cowan’s trust, saying he “only wanted to help Cowan”, and that Cowan could trust him with anything. Cowan subsequently disclosed his involvement in Morcombe’s abduction and the confession was captured on video.
    • While the movie The Stranger does change the names of the characters involved, it is very close to the real story.
    • Both Daniel MorCombe and the fictional boy James Liston from the movie were abducted under an overpass in Queensland Australia at a bus stop. Like the movie, there was a huge undercover police operation and one undercover officer did “befriend” the abductor/murderer.
  • After the crime, investigation, and trial, Brett Peter Cowan is rotting in prison.
    • He is currently 53 years old sentenced to life in prision in 2014. His defense was that his confession was false and was given under false pretenses. But he was convicted and during sentencing Justice Roslyn Atkinson of Brisbane Supreme Court described his crime as “entirely abhorrent,” stating “you have tragically and pointlessly snuffed out a young life.”
    • It is a fairly well-known fact that prison systems don’t take kindly to the type of crime that Cowan committed.
      • In 2016 inside the high-security section of Wolston Correctional Centre, a fellow inmate of Cowan’s threw a bucket of boiling water on him burning 15% of his body, mostly on the head, chest, and legs.
      • In 2018 he was stabbed in the neck with a makeshift shive carved out of a toothbrush.
        • These are extremely violent acts that in this particular situation probably don’t garner much sympathy for the victim.
  • The undercover cop from the real story is faceless and only ever given a fake name for obvious reasons.
    • Paul “Fitzy” Fitzsimmons is the name given to the real-life undercover cop, but don’t be surprised to find that is a fake name. The identity of the undercover cop who did most of the groundwork on the Mr. Big investigation procedure is kept under lock and key for his safety.
    • The actor Joel Edgerton said he did not even try to meet the real-life counterpart to his fictional Mark Frame character. He told the Sydney Morning Herald he’s never met or spoken with the real Frame “because we were investigating the truth, taking that truth and telling a fictionalized version of it, which is about protecting everyone involved.”
    • There is no way to confirm if the real undercover cop on the case has a son like the fictional version does. That may have been an added detail to get the audience to feel more tension while viewing the film.


Joel Edgerton standing on a dirt road in a forest
In The Stranger on Netflix, Joel Edgerton plays Mark Frame, an undercover cop who finds himself getting close to someone who may have committed an unspeakable crime.  Ian Routledge/Netflix
  • The movie seems to be a hit with most people.
    • It currently has a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes which is a damn-good score.
    • But not all enjoy the movie. When a real-life crime of this gruesome of nature comes out, the victims seldom give anything but scorn.
    • Daneil Morcombe’s parents Denise and Bruce strongly disapprove. Denise tweeted “The movie The Stranger is not supported by the Morcombe family. Individuals who make money on a heinous crime are parasites … We find the making of the movie morally corrupt and cruel.”
    • The parents have said on the news “The actual predator looks exactly like Brett Peter Cowan,” Bruce Morcombe told Australia’s ABC News. “Of course, it’s not a fictitious story. Only an idiot would suggest that.”
  • Daniel Morcombe’s parents run the Daniel Morcombe Foundation to educate children about staying safe in physical and online environments. The red T-shirt Daniel wore on that December day he went missing has become a symbol of child safety awareness in Australia. People dress in red for an annual National Day of Action for Child Safety, held on the last Friday in October. The event’s called Day for Daniel.
Crowd dresses in red in honor of Daniel Morcombe, who wore red the day he went missing as a 13-year-old
Members of the Sunshine Coast community wear red as a symbol of child safety awareness on this year’s Day for Daniel. Daniel Morcombe Foundation



Doc Ellis and the No-No

The content below is from Episode 151 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast


  • This week I recommend you go buy some cheap crap.
    • LOL, it sounds odd, but do it. Go to a thrift store, a dollar store, or if you are feeling boujie go splurge at a Five Below.
    • You’d be surprised what fun things you can find.
    • Dollar stores have some of the best quality playing cards
    • We got a back massager at Five Below and it is so satisfying to work out those knots on our backs and plus the cat LOVES it
    • Have you ever gone shopping at a Thrift Store in a rich neighborhood? We found a crystal flower vase for $3 LOL


  • Dock Phillip Ellis Jr. (March 11, 1945 – December 19, 2008) was an American professional baseball player.
    • Although his name would become more associated with the city of Pittsburgh later in his career, Doc was a born and raised a Californian, born in LA.
    • He went to Gardenia High School and right around the time of his Freshman year (14 years old) he started to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
    • He joined the school basketball team and did well, but refused to join the school baseball team after a player referred to him as a “spearchucker.”
    • However, he would eventually play for Gadena high baseball.
    • One day Doc got caught drinking and smoking pot in the high school bathroom senior year. The school principal made a deal: play baseball for the school or get expelled.
    • Doc appeared in 4 high school baseball games and was named an all-league player.
    • Not long after, Doc was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia at age 17. The diagnosis was later changed to sickle cell trait.
  • He played in Major League Baseball as a right-handed pitcher from 1968 through 1979, most notably as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates teams that won five National League Eastern Division titles in six years between 1970 and 1975 and won the World Series in 1971. Ellis also played for the New York YankeesOakland AthleticsTexas Rangers and New York Mets. In his MLB career, Ellis accumulated a 138–119 (.537) record, a 3.46 earned run average, and 1,136 strikeouts.
    • He was flamboyant, passionate about the rights of his fellow African American players, and known for enjoying all sorts of recreational drugs.
  • Sports Illustrated tells tales of Doc’s sports career better than I could:
    • “As a player, Ellis was equal parts ferocious and flamboyant. Once, in 1974 against the Reds, he made it his mission to plunk every Cincinnati batter in an attempt to intimidate the nascent Big Red Machine; he got five hitters into it, nailing the first three and throwing over the heads of Tony Perez and Johnny Bench, before he was pulled. Another time, as a member of the Athletics in ’77, he he took pitching charts he’d been ordered to fill out and burned them in the locker room, setting off the sprinklers. And he had to be expressly told by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in ’73 not to wear hair curlers onto the field. Ellis was more than just a character, though: He was a key part of the 1971 World Series champion Pirates and the ’76 Yankees, who won the pennant, and started the ’71 All-Star Game for the National League opposite Oakland’s Vida Blue—the first time two pitchers of color had ever started the Midsummer Classic.”
    • In a video I watched, Doc defiantly says “get the hell out of here” to the people from his past telling him not to wear curlers in his hair. I’m not a fan of the look myself. I think curlers look tacky, however, there is something badass about a guy wearing a hair style typically associated with feminity and just not caring what anyone else thinks about it. The photos of Doc wearing his curlers looks so damn cool to me, especially the ones where he is in uniform.
  • There have been 318 no-hitter baseball games recognized by the Major League BaseballPlayers Association.
    • This story is about one of those games, played on June 12th of 1970. The thing that set’s Doc Ellis’s first and only no-hitter apart from the other 317 was that he was, as Doc puts it: “High as a Georgia Pine.”
  • On that day, June 12th 1970, the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team faced off against the Padres in the old San Diego Stadium.
    • Sport Illustrated wrote:
      • Ellis took the mound having dropped acid earlier that day and blanked the Friars, walking eight batters and hitting another (otherwise known as an A.J. Burnett Special). It was the first and only no-hitter of Ellis’ career, and almost certainly the lone MLB no-hitter pitched under the influence of LSD. (If you know otherwise, drop us a line.)
  • Two days before the game kicked off he went to go visit a lady friend in LA. While there he took some Acid and partied all night doing an assortment of drugs and drinking alcohol. He partied so hard that he passed out in the wee hours of the morning and didn’t wake up until the following day.
    • So he went to his lady friend’s house on Wednesday, partied so late into the night that he slept through all of Thursday. When he woke up Friday morning he thought it was still Thursday. So he popped another Acid around noon.
    • Two hours after taking Acid and thinking he didn’t have to pitch until the next day, his friend in LA informed him that it was in fact Friday and his ass better be on the mound in San Diego before the game started.
    • Doc got his ass moving the best he could. He hopped on the next flight to San Diego and was able to make it to the Stadium about 90 minutes before the game commenced… but the thing about Acid is that it doesn’t wear off like alcohol or any other drug for that matter.
  • LSD is no joke
    • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a popular psychedelic drug that alters the state of your mind in significant ways. This potent drug binds to specific brain cell receptors and alters how the brain responds to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates emotions, moods, and perceptions.1 By binding to these receptors LSD modifies neural pathways, producing visual hallucinations and altering the perception of things such sound and time.2-3
    • The mind-altering effects experienced during an “acid trip” could last for up to 12 hours…
  • I’m personally impressed that Doc Ellis was able to scrape himself off the couch, put on his uniform, and fly to LA … let alone pitch a whole game no-hitter.
    • Doc had recounted the day himself multiple times. He said the ball would look gigantic and as if it were speeding right towards him and scare him into flinching for one play, only to have it fall short of the mound. In the next play the ball would appear as small and fragile as a robin’s egg inside his mit.
    • He expressed the lack of vision to the point where he could only tell which side of the play the batter was on and could barely read the signals his catcher was giving him.
  • In 1984 Doc  recounted:
    • “I started having a crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire, and once I thought I was pitching a baseball to Jimi Hendrix, who to me was holding a guitar and swinging it over the plate,” “I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn’t hit hard and never reached me.”
    • “I can only remember bits and pieces of the game,” Ellis recalled in 1984. “I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria. I was zeroed in on the [catcher’s] glove, but I didn’t hit the glove too much. I remember hitting a couple of batters, and the bases were loaded two or three times. The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn’t.
    • “Sometimes, I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder. They say I had about three to four fielding chances. I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn’t hit hard and never reached me.”
  • Now, it should be mentioned that Ellis is the one and only source for this story and he didn’t share it publicly until 14 years after the event. So naturally some have doubted that he was under the influence when he pitched his No-No.
    • Today you can only watch bits and pieces of the game. Despite the game being televised, the MLB has not released the video of the game in its entirety.
    • Not to mention that although it was a No-Hitter, it wasn’t a pretty performance.
  • The Guardian writes:
    • In some ways, Ellis’s performance for the Pirates against San Diego Padres on Friday 12 June 1970 was not exactly a pitching masterclass. Ellis recorded more walks (eight) than strikeouts (six), hit another batsman, allowed three stolen bases, and was bailed out by highlight-reel plays in the field by second baseman Bill Mazeroski and centerfielder Matty Alou. 
  • It was his teammate, Danny Cash, the 2nd baseman, who kept telling Doc “you got a No-No going,” referring to the No-Hitter.
    • Doc said he wanted him to shut the hell up. It was bad luck to put attention on a no-hitter, especially just after the first inning.
      • I can relate to that. I tell my buddies when we are playing video games or any type of game that if I am doing well, DON’T tell me in the moment. Feel free to praise my performance afterwards, but if you bring the fact that I’m doing really well to my attention mid-game, I’m going to choke.
      • Every time, without fail, if a buddy says “damn dude, you are killing it!” I immediately get in my own head and play terribly.

During his 12 years in the major leagues, Dock lived the expression “Black is Beautiful!” He wore curlers on the field. He stepped out of his Cadillac wearing the widest bell bottoms and the broadest collars. When he put on his uniform, he was one of the most intimidating pitchers of the 1970s.

Dock was often at the forefront of controversy and has been called the “Muhammad Ali of Baseball.” He was an outspoken leader of a new wave of civil rights in sports, when black athletes were no longer content to accept second-class treatment or keep their mouths shut about indignities. For this, the press labeled him a militant.

When he wasn’t playing ball, Doc was making waves in the name of equal rights… and this was back in the 70s when equality was a lot more sparse than they are today.

  • When he wasn’t playing ball, Doc was making waves in the name of equal rights… and this was back in the 70s when equality was a lot more sparse than they are today.
    • I have mad respect for the man for this.
    • It is well known now that Baseball (among MANY other facets of life) were institutionally racist, and Doc wasn’t having none of that shit.
  • On another note of standing up for what he believed in, Doc didn’t hide the fact that he did drugs. At a time when Nixon (Ol’ Tricky Dick) with his SUPER anti-drug policies some of which are still being felt today and are widely regarded as unreasonable, Doc was dropping Acid and going to games LOL.
    • Regardless of how you feel about substance abuse, you must recognize the gumption of the man.
      • It should be noted that sometime after he left baseball, Doc got sober. Not only did he change his life around, but he launched a career around helping others kick their addictions as well. He was a drug addiction counselor specializing in helping prison inmates get sober.
    • After Dock retired from baseball, he was as outspoken about his addictions to alcohol and amphetamines (aka “greenies”) as he had been about racial prejudice during his career. He spent his last decades using that blunt honesty as a counselor helping other addicts.
    • It was a drive to do good that was a constant in his life after retirement, when he got sober and worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to rehabilitate black prisoners, helped start the Black Athletes Foundation for Sickle Cell Research and served as the coordinator of an anti-drug program in Los Angeles. As he explained to enrollees, he self-medicated to cope with the fear of both losing and winning. He came to bemoan the feat he’s most associated with simply because it “robbed him of his greatest professional memory”.
      • I mean… how honorable, yet still rebellious is that?
      • Kinda reminds me of Johnny Cash doing a concert in Folsom Prison

Since then, the Internet has fueled the legend of Dock Ellis. This will be the first time his legend – and the story of the man behind it – will be told in a feature film.

It was in 2008 that Doc died of cirrhosis of the liver. His legendary baseball career, and commendable lifestyle will not be forgotten.



Space Poop

The content below is from Episode #150 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast


  • This week I recommend you make something from scratch!
    • Last week I saw a YouTube video of a guy making a PB+J sandwich completely from scratch. He baked the bread, made the jam, and blended his own peanut butter. It looked fun and delicious.
    • So Shannon and I replicated it.
    • The first attempt at making jam turned out to be more of a blackberry-flavored rock lol.
    • But jam 2.0 came out great.
    • THIS is how you make a PB+J
    • The coolest discovery was how easy it is to make your own peanut butter which is much less sweet than store PB.
    • Just buy peanuts (Spanish peanuts are best if you can find them), put in oven 300F for 30 minutes, then blend on high for about 10 minutes. Careful, they get hot in the blender.
  • So pick a favorite snack and look up how to make it from scratch. Bonus points if you make it with someone you love!


  • Episode #87 of this podcast titled “Where does our poop go?” examined where human waste ends up… down here on Earth.
    • This episode I wanted to look into a question that randomly popped into my head the other day: “How do astronauts poop? Where does all of their bodily waste go?”


  • This episode will contain language and topics meant for adults. Listener discretion is advised.
  • When we shit or piss down here on earth it usually goes in one direction: down.
    • Thanks to gravity our waste is pushed down and away from the rest of our bodies. For eons we humans popped squats in the woods or the savannah and now most of us use the toilet. Both methods require gravity.
    • But for someone in zero gravity, they can’t rely on that downward force to make sure their waste goes down the drain. Your average toilets don’t work in space.
      • Sure, if you have a nice solid shit, there is less mess, but what if you and the crew just had space chimichangas the night before? You don’t want all that nasty mess floating around you and getting into all that expensive space equipment.
  • Back in the beginning of space travel, when toilets were the least of everyone’s problems over at NASA, the first American mission in space didn’t even have a plan for a bathroom break.
    • it was in 1961 when Alan Shepard became the first American to go to space. It was supposed to be a very short trip and so mission command didn’t even bother with a bathroom plan. When launch was held up for over 3 hours after Alan Shepard had already strapped himself in he asked if he could pee LOL
    • Mission command found it would cost a whole lot of money to let him out of the rocket and start all over so they concluded he could just piss himself inside his space suit LOL.
    • The first American in space did the thing with piss sloshing around his toes.
  • Jump to the year 2000 and a space toilet was invented for American astronauts.
    • Though it was only designed for men, it was later used by women as well… though they had to awkwardly pee standing up.
    • To take a dump they had a pretty standard toilet, but with straps on the side to keep the astronauts ass tighter to the toilet rim creating a seal so none of the shit got out.
      • This model was flawed, didn’t work very well, and it wasn’t a fun job to clean this bad boy.
  • The toilets used today are meant for women and men so they are more comfortable.
    • Directly from
      • In 2018, NASA spent over $23 million on a new and improved toiletDownload pdf for astronauts on the International Space Station. To get around the problems of zero-gravity bathroom breaks, the new toilet is a specially designed vacuum toilet. There are two parts: a hose with a funnel at the end for peeing and a small raised toilet seat for pooping.
  • When the astronauts go to use this high tech toilet, they have to strap down their hands and legs so they don’t drift away mid-dump or mid-piss LOL.
    • To piss they just pick up the funnel around their naughty bits and press hard enough to their skin so no piss leaks out.
    • To shit they lift the lid of the most expensive toilet ever created and sit down. As soon as that lid is lifted the toilet begins suction to make sure no shit particles escape and to keep the smell to a minimum.
    • Space toilets have a smaller hole than the ones down here on earth and that is to make sure the seal between the toilet seat and the ass is more secure.
  • So, I know what you are saying: “Zeb, this is great stuff. I love hearing about shit in space and how it is done, but I want to know more! I need to know what happens to it!”
    • Well have no fear Who’d a Thunker! … but first a quote:

If you’ve ever seen a shooting star, it might have been a meteorite burning up in Earth’s atmosphere — or it might have been flaming astronaut poo.

Tracy Gregg
  • First, let’s talk about the piss.
    • Ok, so piss is 90% water right?
    • And to transport anything to space, to the International Space Station for example, costs a lot of money… Can you see where I’m going with this?
    • Here’s a direct quote from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) themselves:
      • An astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) requires about one gallon of water each day, and at $83,000 per gallon to lift into space, the costs can quickly add up. It is approximately $500,000 per day to supply water to a crew of six astronauts on the ISS using launch vehicles for resupply. High costs have driven NASA to develop and utilize systems that recycle water in space.
    • All astronaut pee is collected and turned back into clean, drinkable water. Astronauts say that “Today’s coffee is tomorrow’s coffee!
    • When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. They drink their own recycled pee and that is precisely what any human would need to do on a long-distance space mission.
  • Now for the space shit.
    • On occasion, they will bring astronaut crap back to earth to be studied. Astronauts are above Earth’s protective magnetic field and therefore are subject to cosmic radiation. That fact coupled with the fact that scientists will literally study anything is why they might study astronaut shit.
    • But for the most part, space poop is burned.
      • Their shit, along with all wipes, TP, and gloves, gets vacuumed up into plastic waste bags that are then put into airtight sealed containers.
        • The gloves are a space thing. Zero G makes wearing gloves a necessity for shitting in space apparently LOL
      • The airtight containers are loaded onto a special spacecraft that was just used to bring supplies to the space station. That poop filled spacecraft is then shot back to earth, but not with the intent of landing. No, the spaceship (or spaceshiT) is intentionally burned up in Earth’s atmosphere.

The image above is of a Russian Progress spacecraft. These spacecrafts bring supplies to the ISS and take on trash and waste, which are then burned up in the atmosphere with the spacecraft. NASA/Wikimedia Commons

Above are some space toilets

  • Vox did an article titled “Apollo astronauts left their poop on the moon. We gotta go back for that shit.
    • The article has some cool insights into space shitting that I thought was interesting so here is the premise:
      • It’s been nearly 50 years since the Apollo 11 moon landing. Neil Armstrong’s iconic footprint is still there, undisturbed; there’s no atmosphere, no wind on the moon to blow it.
      • But the bigger human footprint on the moon is, arguably, the 96 bags of human waste left behind by the six Apollo missions that landed there.
      • Yes, our brave astronauts took dumps on their way to the moon, perhaps even on the moon, and they left behind their diapers in baggies, on humanity’s doorstep to the greater cosmos.
      • The bags have lingered there, and no one knows what has become of them. Now scientists want to go back, and answer a question that has profound implications for our future explorations of Mars: Is anything alive in them?
      • Human feces can be disgusting, but they’re also teeming with life. Around 50 percent of their mass is made up of bacteria, representing some of the 1,000-plus species of microbes that live in your gut. In a piece of poop lives a whole wondrous ecosystem.
      • Planet Earth has hosted this life and so much more for upward of 3.9 billion years. The moon, as far as we know, has been sterile and lifeless that whole time.
      • With the Apollo 11 moon landing, we took microbial life on Earth to the most extreme environment it has ever been in. Which means the human feces — along with bags of urine, food waste, vomit, and other waste in the bags, which also might contain microbial life — on the moon represents a natural, though unintended, experiment.
    • That is the gist of it. They go into the logistics for both possible outcomes: the bacteria is alive or the bacteria is not alive. They also talk about what this means for future missions to Mars in the hopes of colonization and the possible insights the moon poop could give in relations to the beginning of live on Earth.
      • Was life on earth started by an alien civilization dropping their shit off here billions of years ago?
    • See! You didn’t think space poop could be this interesting did ya? LOL
  • The last section of this episode isn’t necessarily about poop. This is the most mature section of the episode. Where before I was just using curse words, this part is truly not meant for children. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED… AGAIN
  • The real question that popped into my head the other day was: do astronauts masterbate while in space?
    • Some missions are brief like Alan Shephard’s brief flight in 1961, but what about Astronaut Scott Kelly’s famous 340 day stay on the International Space Station (ISS)? Are you telling me he went that long without climaxing? And STILL was able to keep a cool head?
      • I thought: it can’t just be done willy nilly or the ISS would look like a snowglobe with floating ejaculate flying around at all times.
      • Then I thought: do they shoot it out into space?
    • Luckily I wasn’t the only one who thought this would be an interesting topic. VICE did an article about it.
  • VICE’s Shamani Joshi (a Gen Z-focused culture reporter who curates conversations on tech, drugs, sex, and unconventional lifestyles.) wrote an article titled: Can Astronauts Masturbate in Space? An Investigation. We know space sex might come with significant logistical difficulties, but what about self-pleasure?
    • Apparently sex in space, contrary to how Carl Sagan wrote about it in his famous book adapted to Hollywood movie Contact, is not fun. I just recently listened to the VERY long unabridged Contact book. It was great, but was a lot of talk about how sex is unimaginably great in space in the book. That is in stark contrast of what I found out looking stuff up for this podcast LOL
    • Apparently Zero G makes it hard to hold on to your partner and to stay in the desired position.
    • Plus, having your expensively trained astronauts bumping uglies is an unnecessary risk to the mission. When people do the deed, drama is bound to follow. They are all coworkers up there after all.
    • Those are the realistic arguments against sex in space and NASA doesn’t really ever entertain any questions related to it… but what about just cranking one out on your own? … a solo mission if you will? LOL
    • Here’s a paragraph directly from the VICE article
      • “A few years ago, Marjorie Jenkins, a NASA advisor and expert on sex and gender health, wrote in a paper titled ‘Effects of Sex and Gender on Adaptations to Space: Reproductive Health’ that ejaculation was essential for men to avoid the risk of bacteria building up in their prostate, which could then lead to genitourinary infections. Many studies also conclude that masturbation is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety, so it would make sense for someone in a high-pressure space mission to want some form of escape.”
    • While NASA won’t discuss their astronauts beating it in space, Russian Cosmonauts don’t seem to have an issue LOL (us Americans, we’re so uptight about sex compared to other countries it seems).
      • To be fair, I understand why NASA doesn’t talk about it. It degrades the little amount of privacy these astronauts have up there on the station being on camera all the time. But I’m just curious of the logistics of it all ya know. So, I’m glad some Cosmonauts talked about it
    • Valeri Polyakov, a retired cosmonaut, kept a diary and said  “Psychological Support Service sent us some nice, ‘colorful’ movies which help to recover our will, to act like a normal adult male. There is nothing to be ashamed of.”
    • Valeri even said his higher ups told him to pack a sex doll for his 14-month stay in space (a record). But Valeri didn’t bring the doll for fear he might fall in love with the doll over an actual woman LOL
    • I mentioned cameras being fixed on the astronauts all the time, but the VICE article pointed out that the astronauts control these cameras and could probably just have the cameras avert their gaze and “rub one out while they’re having a shower or when huddled in their phone booth-sized sleeping quarters.”
  • Then comes the final question, the last tid bit to satiat my curiosity: what happens to the cum?
    • LOL, I know I’m so immature
      • Here’s what VICE said: “Finally, there’s also the question of what happens to the cum if an astronaut were to touch themselves. While tissues and wipes are available on the spacecraft, they may choose to dispose of these bodily fluids the same way they throw out piss: by dumping it in space where it freezes into ice crystals. Not quite the big bang you imagined.”

Remember that quote from Tracy Gregg I said earlier? Well here’s my unabridged version:

“If you’ve ever seen a shooting star, it might have been a meteorite burning up in Earth’s atmosphere — or it might have been flaming astronaut poo. ” – Tracy Gregg

“or apparently flaming astronaut nut.” -Zeb MC





JFK and the Coconut

The content below is from Episode 149 of the Who’d a Thunk it? Podcast


  • Next Level Chef
    • Yes, it isn’t my typical kind of show and if it weren’t for my wife Shannon, I probably wouldn’t watch any reality competition show like this. But I’m glad I do.
    • It started with the Great British Baking show which is such a happy feely baking show. Then we binged a couple seasons of Master Chef.
    • Well the latest food competition show we are obsessed with is Next Level Chef starring Gordon Ramsay.
      • We love watching Gordon lol
      • I particularly love the fact that he is known for being a hardass on his adult shows, but when he is working with children he turns into the sweetest guy on the planet LOL.
    • The plot of the show: Chefs Gordon Ramsay, Nyesha Arrington and Richard Blais recruit talented chefs and take them under their wings as they face unique cooking challenges in a one-of-a-kind culinary gauntlet with the goal of finding the food world’s newest superstar.
    • It is in Vegas and the 3 storied kitchens makes this show unique. There is the basement kitchen which has dull knives and very little options for cooking. There is the the middle kitchen which is like a standard mid level restaurant kitchen, then the 3rd level is a kitchen with REALLY expensive equipment.
      • The contestants don’t know what ingredients they get until they are lowered on a platform through the three levels. So the 3rd floor gets first pick, 2nd floor gets 2nd dibs, and the basement gets the last picked ingredients.
    • Shannon and I enjoy it. I think you might too


  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born May 29th 1917 (During WW1)
    • At the age of 43 on January 20th 1961 he would become the 2nd youngest US President. The 35th President of the country’s history.
    • He would infamously be assassinated on November 22nd of 1963.
    • If you ask someone on the street what the first thing they think of when you bring up JFK, they will most certainly say his death… but the man lived a… colorful life.
    • Today’s eipsode is about one small story from his life, before he ever became president of the Free world.
John F. Kennedy and the crew of PT-109 in the Solomon Islands in 1943. Back row, left to right: Allan Webb, Leon Drawdy, Edgar Mauer, Edmund Drewitch, John Maguire, Lt. j.g. John F. Kennedy. Front row, left to right: Charles Harris, Maurice Kowal, Andrew Kirksey, and Lenny Thom. Photo courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Above Image:

John F. Kennedy and the crew of PT-109 in the Solomon Islands in 1943. Back row, left to right: Allan Webb, Leon Drawdy, Edgar Mauer, Edmund Drewitch, John Maguire, Lt. j.g. John F. Kennedy. Front row, left to right: Charles Harris, Maurice Kowal, Andrew Kirksey, and Lenny Thom. Photo courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

  • Many young Americans of all backgrounds volunteered for military service in 1941, including young John F. Kennedy.
    • He was 26 years old when he almost died in action serving in the South Pacific. A Japanese destroyer ran into his patrol torpedo boat. This event lasted like 8 days and when it was all over two heroism awards were given out. Through it all, a coconut was involved. This coconut would go from the waters of the south pacific to the Oval Office.
  • It was one of those dark dark nights with no moon and clouds blacking out the stars on August 1st of 1943. The patrol torpedo boat PT-109 was in the Blackett Strait just south of Kolombangara of the Solomon Islands. PT-109 was under orders to run silently through the night to avoid being detected by enemies.
    • At the helm was skipper Kennedy, a lieutenant junior grade. He scanned the horizon and spotted the “Tokyo Express,” the name US naval personnel gave to the Japanese destroyers tasked with escorting supplies and soldiers to Guadalcanal.
    • PT-109 fired 30 torpedoes at 3 battleships and one escort vessel… none hit their targets.
      • A splendid waste of Tax Payer dollars
  • Then the PT-109 received orders to return to base. Four boats including the PT-109 got into formation to head back to base but still cover their retreat. All was well until one boat suddenly broke off formation to pursue a Japanese target.
    • The ship that broke formation was the only boat with radar capabilities so when it left it left the other three boats practically blind.
    • To make matters worse, the waters of the Solomon Islands have phosphorescent plankton residing within them and the skippers of the blind boats knew that going through these glowing plankton plumes would leave a glowing trail behind their boats. This would be like a giant glowing arrow for aircraft. They were literally glowing targets to enemy aircraft. So they trudged onward towards what they thought was the direction of home base using only 1 of 3 engines.
      • Hopefully the slowed retreat would disturb less glowing plankton.   
John F. Kennedy (JFK) navy PT-109 coconut coffee or die
Oil painting depicting the moment PT-109 was rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri during WWII. This painting hung in one of the cabinet rooms of the White House. Photo courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
  • That night around 230AM, as the 3 boats retreated, Kennedy noticed a black shape coming for the PT-109. At first he thought it was another patrol torpedo boat, but as it came closer he noticed it was a Japanese destroyer vessel called the Amagiri.
    • Traveling at about 40 knots about to collide with the PT-109, Kennedy suddenly tried turning his boat right to aim at the enemy destroyer. He hoped he could get the torpedoes out and strike the enemy, but it was too late.
    • From the time they noticed the Japanese Destroyer to when it struck the PT-109 was about 10 seconds. The Amagiri rammed and cut the PT-109 in half. The impact killed two US sailors instantly. Kennedy had just barely escaped his cockpit and with the 10 other survivors was left floating in South Pacific in the dead of night.
  • The Amagiri sped off and its massive wake put out the flames of the impact. Kennedy was clinging to wreckage from the PT-109 with 4 other members of the crew.
    • He called out for more survivors and heard replies from 6 other men.
    • Motor Machinist Mate Patrick McMahon was badly burned from the PT boat’s fuel tank exploding on impact.
    • Gunner’s Mate Charles Harris was severely wounded.
    • The 6 survivors not by Skipper Kennedy’s side were about 100 yards from the wreckage of the PT-109. But it took Kennedy 3 hours to rescue them in the pitch black night.
    • Once all were together they talked about what to do next.

“There’s nothing in the book about a situation like this. A lot of you men have families and some of you have children. What do you want to do? I have nothing to lose.”  

John F. Kennedy (JFK) navy PT-109 coconut coffee or die
Lt. j.g. John F. Kennedy aboard PT-109 in the South Pacific, 1943. Photo courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
  • There wasn’t much debate amongst the survivors, I suppose the dire situation made the sailors much more agreeable.
    • They ditched the PT-109 wreckage and tried for swimming to the nearest island named… I kid you not… Plum Pudding. But Plum Pudding was three and a half miles away…
    • The distance was manageable for Kennedy, who had been on the Harvard swim team. But he also took on the arduous task of towing McMahon, holding McMahon’s belt in his teeth. Several of the other men were good swimmers, but two couldn’t swim at all — they had to be pushed and pulled along on a plank the entire distance.
      • I’m not sure if the two sailors who couldn’t swim were unable to do so because of injury or if they just didn’t know how to swim…
      • but I am always baffled by people who can’t swim. I realize not everyone has the same opportunities as myself and so not everyone gets the opportunity to learn how to swim as a child. But it just seems like such a huge risk like every body of water is a death sentence…
      • It is especially baffling that US Naval personnel didn’t know how to swim.
  • The first to arrive at Plum Pudding island was Kennedy himself, though he was completely exhausted. The survivors of PT-109 quickly dubbed their refuge Bird Island because there was so much bird crap on the bushes.
    • McMahon (the burn victim) had to help Kennedy for the last few yards to shore. Kennedy was that exhausted.
      • I’ve had to drag people in a swim before. It is insanely frustrating, awkward, and just sucks the energy out of you at an astonishing rate.
        • I should note the time I had to drag someone in the water was when I was teenager. My friend Adam and I were swimming in a river in upstate Pennsylvania. Adam got unexpectedly swept underwater and panicked (as I’m sure most people would). To keep him from panicking himself to the point of drowning I approached him and began to drag him to shore. I’m a decent swimmer, but He was punching and kicking and I made very little progress. Luckily my dad was watching from a rock about 8 feet above the water. He jumped in and took over the rescue.
        • So my experience is very limited, but I have a vague idea as to how hard it is to drag people while swimming for just a few yards.
          • Back when I was a teenage athlete working out regularly and younger it was taxing as hell. Now I’m a nearly 30 year old work from home dude that goes to Planet Fitness only like 3 times a week. I doubt I could even swim drag someone a few yards now.
        • I cannot imagine swimming 3.5 miles in the pitch black, in the pacific ocean, in enemy waters, with not one teenager, but a full grown men in tow.
    • Once he had a chance to regain some strength, Kennedy swam to Ferguson Passage. The passage was commonly patroled by American PT boats.
    • Swimming over sharp coral reefs for over an hour Kennedy eventually gave up on the idea of being rescued that night. He began swimming back to Plum Pudding island but the currents that night were deceptively strong. Kennedy nearly drowned trying to get back to his crew before he gave up and settled on Leorava island southeast of Plum Pudding island.
  • Kennedy Island (local name Kasolo Island, also known as Plum Pudding Island), is a 1.17 hectares (2.9 acres), uninhabited island in Solomon Islands that was named after John F. Kennedy, following an incident involving Kennedy during his World War II naval career. Kennedy Island lies 15 minutes by boat from Gizo, the provincial capital of the Western Province of Solomon Islands.
  • The crew spent the night on Plum Pudding island and Kennedy on Leorava island. They regrouped as soon as possible.
    • Instead of sitting and waiting for rescue, they decided to get up and move. They began swimming from island to island looking for water and food.
    • Ensign George Ross accompanied Kennedy in exploring the last island in the chain Naru Island.
    • From Naru they were able to see Ferguson Passage. They sneaked down to the beach and discovered a Japanese wreck where they were able to get their hands on a carepackage full of Japanese candy.
      • Candy may not have much nutritional value, but it has calories and can be a major morale booster.

  • Not far from the Japanese candy, Kennedy and Ensign Ross found a canoe stashed in some bushes and then spotted two guys paddling away in a canoe. They approached the men the very next day and found they were coast watchers for the Allies. There names were Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana.
    • The islanders’ canoe couldn’t carry all the survivors. It could barely hold two men.
      • These allied scouts helped the allies by reporting on Japanese positions, but they did not speak english. So Kennedy thought of another idea:
John F. Kennedy (JFK) navy PT-109 coconut coffee or die
A coconut shell with a message from John F. Kennedy carved on the surface. After the crash of PT-109, Kennedy gave the coconut to two natives to deliver to the PT base at Rendova so he and his crew would be rescued. His father later had the coconut shell encased in plastic on a wood base, and Kennedy used it as a paperweight on his desk in the Oval Office. Photo courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
  • Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana took the coconut message.
    • This message, after rowing their dugout canoe at great risk through 35 nmi (65 km) of hostile waters patrolled by the Japanese, was then delivered to the nearest Allied base at Rendova.
    • The next morning, the two men returned with a letter from Australian coast watcher commander Lt. A. Reginald Evans. The letter informed Kennedy to travel with the islanders to Gomu Island in Blackett Strait. The islanders hid Kennedy under a pile of palm leaves and paddled him to meet with Evans.  
  • At this point, PT-109 had sank 6 days ago. When Kennedy reached Rendova he told the rescuers they had to let him guide them through reefs and shallows.
    • On the night of Aug. 7, Kennedy signaled the rescue boats with three shots from his revolver and a fourth from a rifle while standing in a canoe. He didn’t anticipate the recoil from the rifle and was knocked off balance, falling out of the little boat and into the water. PT-157 arrived at the rendezvous point and pulled Kennedy aboard.
    • On the morning of Aug. 8, the remaining PT-109 crew survivors were rescued. They reached the US base at Rendova at 5:30 a.m. The ordeal was finally over.
  • The island scouts Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana had enabled the ensuing return to Olasana and the successful American rescue operation on the 7th and 8th of August.
    • Kennedy was awarded the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the only US president to receive such honors. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1945.
  • Eroni Kumana died in 2014 at the age of 93 and Biuku Gasa died in 2005 at the age of 82
    • Kennedy later invited them to attend his presidential inauguration in 1961, but the pair was duped en route in Honiara, the Solomon Islands capital, by British colonial officials who sent other representatives instead.[5] Another version of the story is that they were turned back by British officials at the airport due to not speaking English.[6] The story from Biuku’s descendants is that the British officials did not want to send Biuku and Eroni because they were simple village men and not well dressed (by the British authorities’ standards). The legend of these two men survives to this day among their descendants in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands.
    • Another scout, Alesasa Bisili, wrote of his experience during the 1942 Japanese landing at Munda in Scouting in Western Solomons. He expressed sadness and anger over the unjust lack of recognition or award given to Solomon Islanders for their services during the war.
    • However, in recognition of his help, Gasa lived in a house paid for by the Kennedy family ($5,000), National Geographic ($5,000) and the balance ($15,000) by Brian and Sue Mitchell
    • Kennedys also constructed a house for Eroni Kumana. It collapsed in the 2007 tsunami, but Kumana survived the storm.[8]


41:49 The coconut on the desk actually has quite a cool story to it. During WW2, John Kennedy was on a patrol boat which was attacked by a Japanese destroyer. The patrol boat sank and Kennedy, along with 10 other men, swam ashore and hid in the jungle. Kennedy carved his name, location and situation into a coconut and asked a local islander to deliver it to a nearby Australian man. That man was actually a spy who was in contact with the US. The entire party was rescued. Kennedy was saved by the delivery of that coconut. He later received the coconut back from the Australian, had it encased in resin and displayed it on his desk all the way up to his death.


The Battle of Los Angeles

The content below is from Episode 148 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast


  • This episode was largely copied and pasted from the 3 sources listed at the bottom in the CREDIT section of the podcast.


  • This week I recommend you go watch some sports.
    • My wife’s cousin John plays hockey. He is a senior in high school so this is the likely the last year we will get to see him play.
    • But they are really fun. I remember the first time Shannon suggested we go see her counsin play hockey years ago. I thought it was going to be a boring thing I was expected to do on a week day.
    • but I truly enjoy the experience each time and I think I’m going to miss it.
    • Everytime we go I get to see my inlaws (company I actually enjoy, sorry, no cliche hatred for my inlaws here). We also get to spectate a sport that is a lot more unpredeictable because they aren’t pros, they are kids. PLUS, you wouldnt’ believe how crazy some of these parents get LOL.
    • The games are fun, it is a family bonding moment, and I feel a little more intune with the community each time I go.
    • So next time your Significant Other, parent, or friend suggests going to a local hockey, football, or any other kind of game… I recommend you go. You might be surprised by how much fun you have and how refreshing it is to change up your weekday routine.
      • Plus, it is always a good opportunity to win some brownie points with your loved ones … or whomever it is that you attend the game with.


  • Pearl Harbor happened on December 7, 1941
    • So that’s why in February 1942, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was still fresh in people’s minds, and major American cities on the Pacific Coast were worried they would be next.
  • On February 23rd, 1942, a Japanese submarine attacked the Ellwood Oil Field near Santa Barbara, about a two-hour drive north of LA.
  • All it took to kick off a panic was a weather balloon. 
    • Sound familiar? Weather balloons and paranoia?
    • On February 24, 1942, US Naval Intelligence warned West Coast units that the Japanese might descend on Los Angeles within the next 10 hours. At 1 a.m. on February 25, meteorological balloons were launched 120 miles west of Los Angeles to monitor the weather. An hour later, the balloons showed up on military radar.
    • Mistaking the balloons for enemy aircraft, radar operators sounded the air raid alarm, and by 3 a.m., anti-aircraft gunners in Santa Monica started shooting. Over 1,400 rounds were fired in the confusion, but there were no enemy aircraft in the area, and Japan confirmed after WWII that it hadn’t attacked the city. 
    • But the “Battle of Los Angeles” wasn’t a harmless misunderstanding. Three people lost their lives in car collisions related to the false alarm, and two more perished from cardiac arrest. The FBI and LA County Sheriff also arrested several Japanese gardeners who were falsely accused of signaling to Japanese planes. 
    • That evening, many flares and blinking lights were reported from the vicinity of defense plants. An alert was called at 7:18 pm, and was lifted at 10:23 pm. Renewed activity began early in the morning of 25 February.[12] Air raid sirens sounded at 2:25 am throughout Los Angeles County.[13] A total blackout was ordered and thousands of air raid wardens were summoned to their positions. At 3:16 am, the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade began firing .50-caliber machine guns and 12.8-pound (5.8 kg) anti-aircraft shells into the air at reported aircraft; over 1,400 shells were eventually fired. Pilots of the 4th Interceptor Command were alerted but their aircraft remained grounded. The artillery fire continued sporadically until 4:14 am. The “all clear” was sounded and the blackout order was lifted at 7:21 am.[14]
    • Several buildings and vehicles were damaged by shell fragments, and five civilians died as an indirect result of the anti-aircraft fire: three were killed in car accidents in the ensuing chaos and two of heart attacks attributed to the stress of the hour-long action.[1] The incident was front-page news along the West Coast and across the nation.[15]
  • Panic is real people!
  • Within hours of the end of the air raid, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox held a press conference, saying the entire incident had been a false alarm due to anxiety and “war nerves”. Knox’s comments were followed by statements from the Army the next day[16] that reflected General George C. Marshall‘s supposition that the incident might have been caused by enemy agents using commercial airplanes in a psychological warfare campaign to generate mass panic.[17]
  • Some contemporary press outlets suspected a cover-up of the truth. An editorial in the Long Beach Independent wrote, “There is a mysterious reticence about the whole affair and it appears that some form of censorship is trying to halt discussion on the matter.” Speculation was rampant as to invading airplanes and their bases. Theories included a secret base in northern Mexico as well as Japanese submarines stationed offshore with the capability of carrying planes. Others speculated that the incident was either staged or exaggerated to give coastal defense industries an excuse to move further inland.[18]
  • Representative Leland M. Ford of Santa Monica called for a Congressional investigation, saying “none of the explanations so far offered removed the episode from the category of ‘complete mystification’ … this was either a practice raid, or a raid to throw a scare into 2,000,000 people, or a mistaken identity raid, or a raid to lay a political foundation to take away Southern California’s war industries.”[19]
  • Japanese submarines continued to conduct occasional attacks against allied shipping off the U.S. coast during the rest of the war. Sent to American waters in hopes of targeting warships, the submarines managed to sink only a handful of merchant ships, besides conducting a few minor attacks on shore targets. These consisted of a bombardment of Fort Stevens on the Columbia River, an attack on a Canadian lighthouse on Vancouver Island, and two air raids launched from a submarine in an attempt to start forest fires in southwest Oregon
  • After the war ended in 1945, the Japanese government declared that they had flown no airplanes over Los Angeles during the war.[13] In 1983, the U.S. Office of Air Force History concluded that an analysis of the evidence points to meteorological balloons as the cause of the initial alarm:[12]
  • A photo published in the Los Angeles Times on February 26, 1942, has been featured in UFO conspiracy theories as evidence of an extraterrestrial visitation.[20] They assert that the photo clearly shows searchlights focused on an alien spaceship; however, the photo was heavily modified by photo retouching prior to publication, a routine practice in graphic arts of the time intended to improve contrast in black and white photos.[21][22]Times writer Larry Harnisch noted that the retouched photo along with faked newspaper headlines were presented as true historical material in trailers for the 2011 film Battle: Los Angeles. Harnisch commented, “[I]f the publicity campaign wanted to establish UFO research as nothing but lies and fakery, it couldn’t have done a better job.”[23]




The content below is from Episode #147 The Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast


  • This week I recommend something a bit out of the ordinary.
    • Instead of recommending a book, show, or movie title, I recommend you get yourself a white noise maker. They are pretty cheap, you can even download an app on your smartpone if you prefer to do it that way.
    • If you have kids, pets, or any other living thing in your home that could possibly make noise or be woken up by noise that you make…. you will benefit from some white noise to smooth that all out.
    • I’m a light sleeper and our noise maker stays on all night long. Tis a game changer.


  • What is a gypsy?
    • Well, they were called “Gypsies” because Europeans mistakenly believed they came from Egypt. But Gypsies are actually an ethnic group called Roma (Romani or Romany), NOT to be confused with Romanians or the ancient Romans.
      • Throughout this episode, I will be referring to them as Gypsies AND Roma/Romani because some tribes prefer to be referred to as Roma and other Gypsies.
    • Geneticists have shown that the Roma descended from a single group of people from the Punjab region of NorthWestern India around 1,500 years ago. Around the 8th and 10th Centuries, large numbers of the Romanies entered Europe. By the 19th Century (the 1800s), they had made their way to the Americas.
    • Today you can find Romanies (Gypsies) in just about every continent on the planet (minus antarctica because its too cold for people). They speak their own language conveniently referred to as Romani. Just how there are many different nations and tribes of Romani people, there are many different variations of Romani language, but they all originated from the ancient Sanskrit language and sound a lot like India’s Hindi language.
    • Gypsies don’t have a 1 overall religion either. The majority are Christians or Muslims, but like their language, there are lots of different religions amongst their people. They are nomadic people and tend to adopt the religion that is most popular for the region they currently find themselves.
  • I mentioned the word Gypsy comes from Europeans mistakenly thinking the Roma came from Egypt.
    • This term started around the 16th century and since has taken on a negative connotation. The word Gypsy is often used to describe someone as a cheat or thief rather than their ethnic background. To “gyp” someone out of a deal comes from Gypsy.
  • When the Romani people first came to Europe it was likely hard on them.
    • Historians think they would have been shunned and looked down upon because their nomadic way of life was so different from that of a European farmer always staying in the same place.
    • Gypsy customs and language would have been completely different from the Europeans. They believe the Roma had their own religion until, over time, that religion faded away.
  • From (Delores Smyth August 2019)
    • Europeans have long portrayed the Roma/Gypsies as cunning outsiders who steal from local residents before moving on to the next town.
    • Because of this distrust, European nations over the centuries have enslaved, expelled, imprisoned, and executed Romani people. Other European nations used their legal system to oppress the Roma, passing laws prohibiting Romanies from buying land or securing stable professions.
    • Some believe that these legal restrictions placed on the Roma necessitated the continuation of their itinerant lifestyle, forcing Romanies to live on the perimeters of settled society for centuries. These nomadic Roma (gypsies) traveled in horse-drawn, brightly-colored wagons and sought jobs conducive to a transient lifestyle. Such jobs included working as livestock traders, animal trainers and exhibitors, entertainers, fortune tellers, and metalsmiths.
  • Gypsies were victims of the Holocaust
    • according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum:
      • Most of the Roma View This Term in the Glossary in Germany and the countries occupied by Germany during World War II belonged to the Sinti and Roma family groupings. Both groups spoke dialects of a common language called Romani, based on Sanskrit (the classical language of India). The term “Roma” has come to include both the Sinti and Roma groupings, though some Roma prefer being known as “Gypsies.” Some Roma are Christian and some are Muslim, having converted during the course of their migrations through Persia, Asia Minor, and the Balkans.
        • For centuries, Roma View This Term in the Glossary were scorned and persecuted across Europe. Zigeuner, the German word for Gypsy, derives from a Greek root meaning untouchable.
        • Many Roma View This Term in the Glossary traditionally worked as craftsmen and were blacksmiths, cobblers, tinsmiths, horse dealers, and toolmakers. Others were performers such as musicians, circus animal trainers, and dancers. By the 1920s, there were also a number of Romani shopkeepers. Some Roma, such as those employed in the German postal service, were civil servants. The number of truly nomadic Roma was on the decline in many places by the early 1900s, although many so-called sedentary Roma often moved seasonally, depending on their occupations.
        • In 1939, about 1 to 1.5 million Roma View This Term in the Glossary lived in Europe. About half of all European Roma lived in eastern Europe, especially in the Soviet Union and Romania. Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria also had large Romani communities. In prewar Germany there were at most 35,000 Roma, most of whom held German citizenship. In Austria, there were approximately 11,000 Roma. Relatively few Roma lived in western Europe.
    • Until recently, the Romani were the unseen victims in the Nazi persecutions. The Nazi regime pursued and captured the Romani, putting tens of thousands to death by claiming that they were ethnically inferior.
      • Even today, the Romani are persecuted. Lately, many human rights organizations have begun to protest the treatment received by the Romani, whether it is forced expulsion or the denial of social services.
  • A lot of Gypsy/Roma history comes from oral tradition
    • Because they were often shunned from town and always on the move, the Roma rarely attended school and so their population is widely illiterate. Their history is almost entirely passed down through the spoken word.
  • They don’t take well to governments or any outsider telling them what to do. ( I mean, most people don’t, but the gypsies have their own system to govern themselves).
    • Being shunned and disconnected from the rest of the world in some way, the Romani people focus on themselves. They put an emphasis on the family and self-governance.
    • Those of the Gypsy nations/tribes that still remain nomadic, travel in bands of 10 to several hundred extended families. They move about in those caravans of wagons. Each band picks a male leader that keeps everyone in line and a female leader that governs the women and children.
    • Bands throw weddings, christenings, funerals, and other rites of passage. When one of these parties are thrown it is expected that EVERYONE attend. Not attending one of these community bonding parties can result in alienation.
  • Gypsy weddings can be a bit old school.
    • Firstly, they expect all women to only wear dresses once they hit puberty. Some groups still do arranged marriages, expect grooms to pay bride prices, and teen weddings are common place.
  • What if someone gets out of line?
    • The whole self-governance thing applies to punishment as well. If a member of the band commits what his/her fellow band members consider misconduct, they are usually subject to go before the community leaders (elders usually). They can lose their reputation or be kicked out of the band all together.
  • How’s life for a gypsy now? (European Gypsies)
    • Well most gypsies live in Europe. Around 10 to 12 million gypsies live in Europe today with the majority in impoverished eastern European countries. Some of them are still nomadic living in caravans and RVs.
    • The majority of gypsies have settled down though, but this hasn’t helped their socioeconomic standing. A whopping 80% of Romanies are below the poverty line as of 2016.
    • Many European nations have official policies regarding immigration, housing, education, and employment that are directed specifically towards Romani people and they aren’t policies that benefit the Roma community.
      • In recent years, there have been alarming reports of anti-Roma discrimination in Europe, including the systematic demolishing of Roma camps and deportation of thousands of Roma at a time in France, and the horrific forced sterilization of Romani women in countries such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
      • In addition, in March of 2019, Amnesty International filed a complaint before the European Committee of Social Rights against the Italian government, alleging international violations against Romanies in Italy, including “widespread forced evictions…use of segregated camps featuring substandard housing and lack of equal access to social housing.” 
      • The plight of the Romanies is also a major concern of the children’s rights organization UNICEF, which is currently working to increase literacy among Romani children in Europe through home-visitation programs that connect new parents with child education and social services.
    • In recent decades European nations have elected leaders with strict policies against gypsies.
      • In Eforie, Romania, after a 6 day notice, authorities forcibly removed 100 people from their homes that they had been living in for 30 years. They demolished their homes so they couldn’t return and left the families in a wasteland to fend for themselves. Amnesty International deemed this a violation of human rights.
  • The American Gypsy
    • Estimates say about 1 million Roma live in the US of A. Like a lot of us, the Gypsies first came to the Americas from all sorts of countries with different cultures and languages.
    • The U.S. has played a role in discrimination against Romanies in the past, as some states have on their books repealed laws that limited where Romanies could rent property, where they could entertain, and what goods they could sell.
      • Although those laws are in the past, the US hasn’t had the best recent track record with immigration.
    • Plus, there isn’t much knowledge on Roma history in the US.
      • America didn’t study Roma people, didn’t ask about Roma heritage on censuses, and didn’t really care. It is also thought that Gypsy culture was kept a secret in the US to avoid being discriminated against.
      • Most Americans don’t even know about Gypsies being a real culture and people. If you ask the average American about a gypsy there is a decent chance they will tell you it is a Halloween costume or a mythical creature.
    • In an effort to remedy the lack of statistics on American Romanies, Harvard University has recently launched a study to assess the structural, social, and economic status of American Romani communities.
  • The Romani are known as nomadic and free spirited people, but they are known as nomadic because they have no country of their own. They have been kicked out of every area they settle upon.
    • The statelessness of the Romani was not fixed by the 1977 creation of the International Romani Union. In 2000, the Romani were officially declared a non-territorial nation.
      • This statelessness makes the Romani legally invisible. Without access to health-care services, they often lack verifiable citizenship or birth certificates. That leads to many of the same issues faced by “legally invisible” people across the world.
      • They cannot access education, health care, and other social services. They can’t even get passports, which makes traveling difficult or impossible.
    • The Romani were an enslaved people in Europe, most notably in Romani, from the 14th to the 19th centuries. They were bartered and sold and considered to be less than human.
      • In the 1700s, Maria Theresa, sovereign of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, made the Romani people, dress, and occupations illegal. This was done to force the Romani to integrate into society.
  • They are an artistic people
    • From early on, the Romani have been connected solidly with singing, dancing, and acting. They have carried that tradition throughout the centuries to leave behind a legacy of massive proportions. Many Romani have assimilated into the world, leaving legacies of their talents and culture.
    • The list of famed musicians with Romani backgrounds includes Kesha, Neon Hitch, Cher Lloyd, Jerry Mason, and Django Reinhardt. Famed LGBT author Mikey Walsh and Pilgrim’s Progress author John Bunyan are two of the many Romani who have given us memorable books.
    • In addition, many famous dancers come from Romani backgrounds. These artists include Carmen Amaya, who is widely hailed as the greatest flamenco dancer of all time.
  • The Romani are sometimes seen as magical and having their own religion.
    • But they are no more magical than the rest of us.
    • They are people just trying to live their lives like you and I.



Heavy Gustav

The content below is from Episode 146 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast


  • Hoopla
    • This week I recommend you checkout the app Hoopla or Libby
    • I think I have mentioned this before, but you can get a Library card for free at your local library. If you use that library number, you can read, listen, and watch a massive library of stories for 100% FREE.
    • Libby is an app I’ve been using for years now.
      • I’ve listened to some of my favorite audiobooks like the Darth Bane trilogy, Red Rising series, Ready Player One, and so on.
    • But the other day I mentioned to Shannon that I wanted to listen to Carl Sagan’s novel Contact, but it wasn’t on Libby. She told me there is another app called Hoopla that basically works the same way: log on with your library card and borrow the titles for about a month for free.
    • Sure enough, where Libby didn’t have Contact, Hoopla did. I am amazed by how much I can listen to for free. I feel so blessed to have so much access. Libraries are the SHIT!
    • Contact is a 1985 hard science fiction novel by American scientist Carl Sagan. It deals with the theme of contact between humanity and a more technologically advanced, extraterrestrial life form. It ranked No. 7 on the 1985 U.S. bestseller list.


  • Another WWII episode!
    • Inspired by a scene from Breaking Bad… my favorite drama series.
  • In 1934 Hitler already knew he was going to invade France.
    • The French had constructed the strongest fortification in existence at the time, the Maginot Line, in an attempt to stop the Germans from invading their country.
      • The Maginot line was constructed to avoid the similar destruction that France had suffered in WWI. It was made up of a series of block houses, rail lines, and heavily fortified bunkers.
      • The world saw this Maginot line and thought it was impenetrable.
      • The thick reinforced concrete bunkers built into the earth itself seemed untouchable by any existing weapon.
    • Hitler had a couple ideas to get around this fortification, one of them being the Schwerer Gustav gun.
      • Hitler asked his high command to give him something that hadn’t been built yet. He wanted something that could fire an unstoppable force at the immovable object that was the Maginot line.
  • The Oberkommando des Heeres (German Army high command) asked the Essen weapons creator Friedrich Krupp AG in 1934.
    • Krupp was told to make a gun capable of penetrating 1 meter of steel armor plating or 7 meters of reinforced concrete. They also needed to make this penetrating projectile be fired from a far enough distance to keep the extremely expensive gun protected.
    • Erich Muller, an engineer at Krupp, was put in charge.
      • Erich knew his new project would be a monstrosity, something larger than ever built before.
      • They estimated they’d need an 80 cm (a little over 31 inch or over 2 and a half feet) caliber that would fire a projectile weighing 7 tons and being fired out of a 30-meter (100-foot) long barrel. They knew this sucker would weigh A LOT so they decided to make it deployable on rail tracks.
      • The aiming mechanism, like other railway mobile artillery, would only lift the barrel up or down. In order to aim the gun they would have to position it strategically on a curve in the railway.
    • While drawing up their plans there were proposals for 85 cm and 1 meter (3.2 feet)
    • In 1936 Hitler visited Essen and asked that his gun be battle-ready for the Battle of France.
      • Plans were finished and manufacturing started in early 1937. They estimated completion of the gun would be in 1940, but the insane amount of steel plating needed to create the gun delayed production.

Do you see that image? It is transported via railway… not one railway though…. two…

  • In 1939 a test model was sent from Krupp to Hillersleben for testing.
    • The tests were successful. This monster was able to penetrate the 1 meter (3.2 feet) of steel armor plating and 7 meters (23 feet) of concrete.
  • Hitler and Alfried Krupp met up at Rugenwalde Proving Ground in 1941.
    • Hitler had 2 guns created and the first shot fired from the finished product went off on September 10th 1941 from a makeshift carriage.
    • Then it was tested again in Poland using a 7,100 kilogram (15,653 pound) shell fired at a target nearly 40 kilometers (25 miles) away.
  • While the Gustav Gun wasn’t actually used during the Battle of France due to it not finishing production by the time the Nazis invaded, the invasion was a success.
    • Instead of getting bogged down by the Maginot Line as things played out in WW1’s stagnate trench warfare, German forces went around it, driving their tanks through a wilderness area in neighboring Belgium that the French wrongly assumed would be impenetrable.

We were through the Maginot Line! It was hardly conceivable. Twenty-two years before, we had stood for four and a half long years before this self-same enemy and had won victory after victory but yet finally lost the war. And now we had broken through the renowned Maginot Line and were driving deep into enemy territory. It was not just a beautiful dream. It was reality.”

Erwin Rommel’s Leader of the Nazi 7th Panzer Division
  • While Schwerer Gustav didn’t get to perform in the battle it was designed for, Germany was successful and had A LOT more plans for battle in the coming years, so Gustav would have its day.
    • The Gustav gun was deployed a few times throughout WWII, but the only operation where it was used extensively was in the Siege of Sevastopol (part of Operation Barbarossa) on the Eastern front against the Russians.
    • It was the heaviest piece of mobile artillery ever built and the largest caliber rifle weapon ever used in war.
    • It was designed and developed by the Krupp Family to be a siege weapon.
      • Siege: a military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building, cutting off essential supplies, with the aim of compelling the surrender of those inside.
    • The fully assembled gun weighed nearly 1,350 tonnes (1,490 short tons), and could fire shells weighing 7 t (7.7 short tons) to a range of 47 km (29 mi).
    • It took 5 weeks and over 4,000 people to get the Gustave gun ready at the Siege of Sevastopol.
  • Those 7 tonne shells could breakthrough 7 meters of reinforced concrete.
    • There was a major downside to this big boy, it took about 500 people just to fire the damn thing and it took about 4,000 more people to transport, protect it, and operate it on the battlefield.
      • About 1,500 soldiers were needed to protect the gun from enemy aircraft.
      • It took 5 days just to assemble the damn thing.
    • By the time the Siege of Sevastopol was over the city was destroyed. The 500 man crew running the gun had fired 48 rounds.
      • The Gustav destroyed several high-value targets, including a munitions depot located roughly 30 m (98 ft) below ground level.
      • Those 48 shots compromised the gun and the 100-foot barrel had to be replaced after the Siege of Sevastopol.

  • After Sevastopol the Gustav Gun was moved to Leningrad and for an entire winter this giant black gun (the largest ever created) loomed outside the city.
    • Before the Gustav could be used at Leningrad the attack was called off, but I feel like seeing this thing outside your city would definitely have some psychological affect.
    • There was a second gun created and used in battle. It was a similar model and named Dora after the engineer Erich Muller’s wife.
      • How romantic. Maybe I will get Shannon a similar present for Valentines day. … now… where do I get an engineering degree, 1,400 tons of steel, and over 7 million Reichsmarks ($24 million USD) worth of funding to make another “largest gun ever created” so I can call it Shannon?
    • Another Model called the Langer Gustav was a 2nd generation model of the Gustav that had smaller shells (1,500 pounds), smaller caliber (52cm/ 20.4 inches), but a longer barrel (43 meters/ 141 feet) for a much longer range (118 miles). This gun could have shot from their claimed territory in Calais France and reached London…
      • Luckily an RAF bombing run destroyed the Langer Gustav while it was still in construction.
  • Third Gen Gustav guns were something from nightmares.
    • The Landkreuzer P 15000 Monster was going to be a gustav gun tank with the 80cm (31.4961 inches) caliber barrel (same size as Gen One), but also was going to have 2 heavy howitzer guns, and MG 151 autocannons for anti-aircraft capabilities. This thing was a small town on tank tracks.
    • Gen 3 Gustav Landkreuzer P15000 Monster was never built. Thank god we beat the Nazis… for a lot of reasons.
      • Some say the 3rd Gen project was scrapped before prototype phase, others say it was a thing of urban myth.
      • But if it was made it would have weighed over 500 tons more than the heaviest tank ever built, the Panzer VIII Maus.
  • The Germans dismantled the Schwerer Gustav before they had lost the war.
    • In the end the Germans realized the Gustav Gun was just too damn clunky. Over 4,000 soldiers were taken off the front line and needed to operate it. It took FOREVER to transport and assemble and once it was finally set up, protected, and manned, its rate of fire was only about 14 rounds per day. It took HOURS to calibrate the damn thing between each shot.
    • Gustav was destroyed by the Germans near the end of the war in 1945 to avoid capture by the Soviet Red Army.
      • The weapons ruins were found on April 22nd 1945 in a foest near Auerbach and Chemnitz.
      • After the soviets got a chance to study it, they sent it to Merseburg where the remains were lost.
      • Dora, the 2nd and last Gustav to be used in combat was destroyed April 19th and discovered by American troops a few days later.
      • Today, some of the remains of Dora are kept in the Dresden Military History Museum of Bundeswehr.
  • Schwerer Gustav was the largest-calibre rifled weapon ever used in combat, and in terms of overall weight, the heaviest mobile artillery piece ever built. It fired the heaviest shells of any artillery piece.[4] It was surpassed in calibre only by the unused British Mallet’s Mortar and the American Little David bomb-testing mortar—both at 36 inches (91.5 cm)—but was the only one of the three to be used in combat.



Unwillingly Kept Alive

The content below is from Episode 145 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast



Tokaimura Nuclear Power Plant
  • For this true story, I’m going to ask you to flip your calendars back to 1961 Who’d a Thunkers, the year Japan’s built their first commercial nuclear power plant.
    • Japan (Nippon-koku) is a nation with few natural resources. Before nuclear power, they relied heavily on expensive imports for their energy. So when Japan created their first nuclear power plant in 1961, it was just the beginning.
    • Fast forward just 4 years later to 1965 and a one Hisashi Ouchi (this story’s main character) is born.
Hisashi Ouchi
  • Ouchi would grow up serving his country by working in the Tokaimura power plant.
    • From
      • The power plant location in Tokaimura was ideal due to the abundant land space, and it led to a whole campus of nuclear reactors, research institutes, fuel enrichment, and disposal facilities. Ultimately, one-third of the city’s entire population would rely on the nuclear industry rapidly growing in the Ibaraki Prefecture northeast of Tokyo.
      • The plant converted uranium hexafluoride into enriched uranium for nuclear energy purposes. This was typically done with a careful, multi-step process that involved mixing several elements in a carefully-timed sequence.
    • In March of 1997 the Tokaimura plant exploded. When the government stepped in they attempted a cover-up to hide the blatant negligence going on at the plant. It shocked the nearby residents irradiating some of them. But the horror of this explosion was nothing compared to what would happen just 2 year later.
    • It was in 1999 when plant officials thought they could speed up the process of their multi-step fuel mixture system to meet deadlines with ease… They thought they would experiment… with nuclear fission.
    • On September 28th, 1999 the Tokaimura plant had missed a deadline for creating fuel for the reactor.
  • On the morning of September 30th, 1999, at Japan’s Tokaimura nuclear power plant, a young Hisashi Ouchi was just beginning his day. Hisashi Ouchi, his 29-year-old peer Masato Shinohara, and their 54-year-old supervisor Yutaka Yokokawa tried a short cut.
    • The plant where he worked was under a lot of stress to meet deadline after deadline. Shortcuts were constantly being made to save money and the subsequent years that followed were rife with breaches in safety protocol. The plant was only inspected two times a year by the state regulator. It had never been inspected while the plant was in operation. In hindsight, the Tokaimura plant probably should have been shut down long before September 30th. But while hindsight is 20/20, that morning Ouchi’s bosses at the Japan Nuclear Fuel Conversion Co. (JCO) told him and two of his coworkers to mix another batch of fuel.
    • On top of the shortcuts and seeming indifference to safety, Ouchi and his coworkers were not properly trained to do the job they were asked to complete.
      • Ouchi and Shinohara were mixing a batch of fuel containing uranium in a stainless steel tank while Yokokawa (supervisor) was sitting at a desk 4 meters (just over 13 feet) away.
    • They mixed the nuclear fuel materials… by hand.
    • The amount of uranium used that day by the untrained men was 7 times more than the correct amount and it was poured into the wrong tank, not capable of containing the highly poisonous element.
    • Out of the three workers mixing one of the most dangerous concoctions of all time that morning, Ouchi was the one standing directly over the vessel used to contain the mixture. Though his body was taking on the most, the entire room was being flooded with Gamma rays… unbeknownst to the three men.
    • None of them had any idea what they were doing. Instead of using automatic pumps to mix 5.3 pounds of enriched uranium with nitric acid in a designated vessel, they used their hands to pour 35 pounds of it into steel buckets. They started this work at 10AM. By 10:35AM, that uranium reached critical mass.
      • The room exploded with a blue flash that confirmed that a nuclear chain reaction had occurred and was releasing lethal emissions of radiation.
  • Eventually, the local towns were evacuated to stay safe from the harmful Gamma rays, but Ouchi and his coworkers weren’t so lucky.
    • Ouichi was taken to the hospital where his condition shocked the doctors treating him. He had almost zero white blood cells. He had virtually no immune system so he was kept in a special radiation ward to protect him from pathogens from the outside world.
      • The first place Ouchi and his coworkers (Yutaka Yokokawa and Masato Shinohara) were taken to the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba. All three of the men were exposed to the radiation, but because of where they were positioned in the room in relation to the reactor fuel mix, they didn’t all get the same amount of radiation.
    • The sievert (Sv) is the International System of Units (SI) derived unit of dose equivalent radiation that takes into account the relative biological effectiveness of different forms of ionizing radiation.
      • It is intended to represent the stochastic health risk of ionizing radiation, which is defined as the probability of causing radiation-induced cancer and genetic damage. The sievert is important in dosimetry and radiation protection.
      • The rule of thumb is that seven sieverts (Sv) is enough to kill a person.
      • Nuclear Radiation 101: Nuclear radiation affects the atoms in our bodies by removing electrons. This breaks the bonds between atoms, including DNA and water in our bodies, damaging them. If your DNA gets damaged enough, cells can’t replicate and they die. Those that can still replicate, create more damaged cells. When damaged cells multiply, it creates cancer.
    • Yutaka Yokokawa, the supervisor that day, was exposed to 3 Sv. He would be the only man out of the 3 Tokaimura plant workers to survive.
  • Ouchi’s pain began immediately.
    • He could barely breathe and was vomiting violently in-between moments of unconsciousness on his way to the hospital.
    • He was crying blood and covered in red radiation burns almost immediately.
    • After just 3 days at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba with doctors assessing each of the three men’s internal organs, they were transferred to the University of Tokyo Hospital. There they attempted revolutionary stem-cell treatments.
  • His first week at the University of Tokyo Hospital in the ICU was full of agonizing skin graft after skin graft and blood transfusion after blood transfusion. This was all they could do to keep him alive.
    • That’s when Hisamura Hirai, a cell transplant specialist, said they should try something risky. It was unheard of to treat radiation patients with stem-cell transplants, but then again, Ouchi had been exposed to an unheard-of amount of radiation.
      • The stem-cells worked. They gave Ouchi’s body a chance to create new blood. His sister donated her own stem-cells.
    • But then they started to take a closer look at Ouchi’s body and the scope of its condition became clear. The photos of his chromosomes were disturbingly informative.
      • His chromosomes were obliterated by radiation. They had “shattered like glass.” They could not be identified or arranged. Without chromosomes, his cells could not regenerate and his body could not heal. His white blood cell count was 0. All transplanted blood would quickly need to be transplanted again for more new blood because the radiation running through his body would destroy the introduced blood cells.
      • There are images of Ouchi’s body in the hospital that I have chosen NOT to show here (feel free to google image search is you’d like but be warned, they are gruesome). The photos of his body show that the uncountable skin grafts the hospital put on his body were doing very little. His DNA couldn’t rebuild itself. His skin was melting.
  • It wasn’t long before his skin started to melt off of him and he cried tears of blood begging to see his mother.
  • His body leaked as he endured a level of agony unseen on this Earth.
    • When he was first brought into the hospital, Ouchi did not seem to understand the severity of his radiation poisoning, often asking when he could go home, and asking if this could cause leukemia. But a few weeks later he began to bed for death.
      • He reportedly said things like “I can’t take it anymore,” and “I’m not a guinea pig!”
      • His family, the ones not experiencing his intense pain, insisted he be kept alive.
    • On day 27, Ouchi’s intestines started “to melt.” Three weeks later, he started hemorrhaging. He began receiving blood transfusions, sometimes as many as 10 in 12 hours. He began losing a significant amount of fluids (10 liters, or over 2 1/2 gallons, a day) through his skin so they wrapped him completely in gauze. He was bleeding from his eyes. His wife said that it looked like he was crying blood. Ouchi started receiving daily skin transplants using artificial skin, but they wouldn’t stick. His muscles began falling off the bone.
    • On the 59th day after the accident at Tokaimura power plant, Ouchi, or what was left of him, suffered from numerous heart attacks, but the hospital staff would revive him over and over again.
      • Because of the way end-of-life laws are set up in Japan, if his family wished it, he had to be revived at all costs. His family insisted he be kept alive for as long as physically possible. They wanted him to be resuscitated everytime he died.
      • On that 59th day, Ouchi had 3 heart attacks in just 1 hour.
      •  This severely damaged his brain and kidneys. At this point, Ouchi was on life support.
  • The melting mass that was once Hisashi Ouchi suffered before his final escape in the form of a final cardiac arrest… 83 days after being admitted to the hospital.
    • With his DNA obliterated and brain damage increasing every time he died, Ouchi’s fate had long been sealed. It was only a merciful final cardiac arrest due to multi-organ failure on Dec. 21, 1999, that released him from the pain.

Hisashi Ouchi Photos

Japan TimesA picture of Hisashi Ouchi from his identification badge at the nuclear power plant.

The following paragraphs were taken from and

The immediate aftermath of the Tokaimura nuclear accident saw 310,000 of villagers within six miles of the Tokai facility ordered to stay indoors for 24 hours. Over the next 10 days, 10,000 people were checked for radiation, with more than 600 people suffering low levels.

There was no critical accident alarm at the facility. When the accident first occurred, other workers were unaware of the emergency. After they were made aware, there was confusion as to whether or not the danger had passed. This led to three members of emergency personnel being unexpectedly exposed while trying to rescue the workers inside.

Because the plant was not included in the National Plan for the Prevention of Nuclear Disasters, immediate protocols for the protection of individuals outside of the plant were not in place. Workers at a lumber yard very near the plant were not evacuated until 3pm, 4 1/2 hours after the reaction.

Tokaimura Nuclear Accident Victims

Kaku Kurita/Gamma-Rapho/Getty ImagesResidents in Tokaimura, Japan, being checked for radiation on Oct. 2, 1999.

But none suffered as much as Hisashi Ouchi and his colleague, Masato Shinohara.

Shinohara spent seven months fighting for his life. He, too, had received blood stem cell transfusions. In his case, doctors took them from the umbilical cord of a newborn.

Shinohara seemed to be getting better. On New Year’s Day 2000, he was taken in his wheelchair to visit the hospital gardens.

However, in late February 2000, Shinohara contracted pneumonia and the damage to his lungs from the radiation meant that he needed to be put on a ventilator. This prevented him from speaking, so he had to write messages to nurses and family. Some of the last words written by Shinohara were “Mommy, please.”

Tragically, neither the stem-cell transfusions approach nor skin grafts, blood transfusions, or cancer treatments had worked. He died of lung and liver failure on April 27, 2000.

As for the supervisor of the two deceased workers, Yokokawa was released after three months of treatment. He had suffered minor radiation sickness and survived. But he faced criminal charges of negligence in October 2000. JCO, meanwhile, would pay $121 million to settle 6,875 compensation claims from affected locals.

In reaction to the accident, which was found to be completely the result of human error, the Tōkai-Mura power plant was fully automated and fitted with neutron monitoring equipment. Tōkai-Mura had a history of taking shortcuts and putting their employees at risk to speed up production. The deaths of Ouchi and Shinohara were the ultimate penalty for their carelessness.

One year after the devastating accident, 6 employees were arrested and charged with negligence. One of the 6 was Yokokawa who claimed he “forgot” or was not aware of the dangers in the plant. He pled guilty.

At the time, Japan generated approximately 1/3 of its electricity from nuclear power.

The nuclear power plant in Tokai continued to operate under a different company for more than a decade until it shut down automatically during the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. It has not operated since.



The USS Texas

The content below is from Episode 144 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast


  • This week I recommend you watch Vox Machina on Amazon Prime.
    • Vox Machina was a creation of a group that call themselves Critical Role
      • A band of professional voice actors improvises, role-plays and rolls their way through a `Dungeon and Dragons’ campaign. The voice actors play a diverse cast of characters, who go on adventures within the kingdom.
      • They streamed their D&D gameplay and tried to sell merch.
    • Critical Role’s first campaign was Vox Machina:
      • Vox Machina, a band of eight unlikely heroes, find themselves on a quest to save the realm of Exandria from dark magical forces.
      • There was a kickstarter request from fans to give money for a simple 22-minute episode… BUT fans donated WAY more than expected (over 11 million) so an entire animated season was created and is now on Amazon Prime.
    • You don’t need to know anything about Critical Role, D&D, or any of that because I didn’t and I loved the show. So did Shannon actually, and she isn’t usually big on the fantasy genre.
    • It is a fun adult animated show with a bunch of main characters. They crack genuinely funny jokes and moments and the action is horrifyingly good.


  • I want you to imagine you are out at sea on a boat. Any boat will do, so whatever kind of boat your imagination conjured up, thats fine. Now imagine your boat starts filling up with water… bad news right?
    • Well, yeah. Usually when your boat starts filling up with water that means you are sinking.
      • There is a major exception to this: Ballast water is fresh or saltwater held in the ballast tanks and cargo holds of ships. It is used to provide stability and maneuverability during a voyage when ships are not carrying cargo, not carrying heavy enough cargo, or when more stability is required due to rough seas. – National Invasive Species Information Center
      • But for the most part, water in boat=having a bad time.
    • Well, there is one story from history that took this notion and flipped it on its head. The crazy sonz-a-bitches on the USS Texas during WW2 intentionally filled their vessel with water because it somehow helped them defeat the Nazis!
  • The tale of the USS Texas BB-35
    • In 1910, two New York-class battleships were authorized for construction. The winning bid for the USS Texas was $5,830,000 ($182 Million in 2023 dollars according to
    • The USS Texas first tasted the salty brine of sea on May 18th of 1912. She was commissioned in March of 1914 as the most powerful weapon in the world.
    • She barely had time to get her sea legs. By May of 1914, she was sent to Mexico to aid in a situation going on down south. An American UBoat was being detained in Tampico. The USS Texas stayed in Mexico for a few months assisting US forces from offshore.
  • WW1
    • Then a little skirmish broke out all around the world, forever changing the face of battle for virtually every nation on Earth: World War One.
    • While escorting the merchant ship Mongolia, the USS Texas’ batteries opened fired upon a surfaced German UBoat. It was the first American shot of World War 1.
      • The German UBoat wasn’t sunk, but its attack on the Mongolia was halted.
    • The USS Texas served the rest of World War 1 alongside Britain’s Grand Fleet. She escorted convoys and minelayers.
The time an American battleship flooded itself…on purpose
Crewman aboard USS Texas pose on one of the ship’s main 14-inch gun batteries (U.S. Navy)
  • Inter-War
    • In between World War One and World War Two, the USS Texas became the first American Battleship to launch a plane from her bow in 1919.
    • For a short period of time, the USS Texas was the flagship of the US Pacific Fleet. Then, just before WW2 broke out, she returned to serve in the Atlantic.
    • Before America joined the fight, the USS Texas would patrol in the name of neutrality escorting convoys across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • WW2
    • The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 plunged the US into WW2. At first, the USS Texas was tasked with escorting convoys to places like Panama, Sierra Leone, and the UK.
    • The Allied invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch), the Texas blaired Lt. Gen. Dwight D Eisenhower’s “Voice of Freedom” speech. Its purpose was to reach the Vichy French puppet government to not slow the allied landings. The Texas fired 300 shells to support allied forces during Operation Torch… they thought that was a lot of shells until their next operation…
    • Operation Overlord was the invasion of Normandy (D-Day). The Texas was with the Western Taskforce and on June 6th, 1944 she took her position off Pointe du Hoc. She began her ordered bombardment of the coast to support the 29th Infantry Division, 2nd, and 5th Ranger Battalions.
      • You know, usual battleship stuff.
    • It took the Texas only 34 minutes to fire 255 14-inch shells into Pointe du Hoc…
      • Boy, I can’t even imagine the magnitude of chaos and power witnessed by those who were there that day. And from what I’ve heard from firsthand accounts… I don’t want to know.
    • Those 34 minutes were up and so Air support radioed down to the Texas informing her that German reinforcements had arrived, artillery batteries spotted, and more strong points were farther inland. The Texas adjusted accordingly.
The time an American battleship flooded itself…on purpose
USS Texas fires a salvo from her 14-inch guns (U.S. Navy)
  • As you may know, D-Day was a success for the allies
    • Though it was a hellish slugfest and to-date one of the largest battle operations ever carried out, allied forces did progress inland.
    • As land forces moved farther inland, the need for naval support did too. The Texas moved closer to shore originally stationed 12,000 yards offshore, she crept to 3,000 yards offshore to proceed with her bombardments. After days of providing support in the form of 14-inch shells delivered at high speed to Nazi bunkers and camps, the Texas had to re-arm itself back in England.
    • By the time she returned off the coast of France, the allied troops had pushed so far inland that the enemy targets were now out of reach of naval ships and their guns. While other ships gave up, radioing back to command that they weren’t able to carry out their orders due to impossibility, the Texas‘ crew used their imagination.
    • The Texas was determined to carry out their fire missions. The massive 14-inch guns on her bow didn’t have the elevation capabilities required to reach designated Nazi targets. They couldn’t lob their shots far enough inland as the invading allies needed.
      • I want you to think of a solution here… I’ve given a few hints so far, you might be able to figure out what the crew of the Texas did next.
    • If the guns facing port couldn’t point any higher… than the starboard side of the ship would have to be lowered…
    • The Texas deliberately flooded her starboard torpedo blister and tilted the USS Texas just a smidge back so that her front end would tilt upward. It worked. The Texas’ main batteries were raised 2 degrees, enough elevation to carry out their firing missions. They had overcome where their fellow battleships had seen way of doing so.
      • Meanwhile, the Germans, who had been shelled into oblivion for days, thought they were finally in the clear. Their intel accurately told them that battleships of the time weren’t capable of firing as far inland as they were currently positioned. They still had to deal with encroaching troops and land artillery, but at least they didn’t have to worry about America’s horrifying sea power anymore… or so they thought LOL

“The reason the American Army does so well in wartime, is that war is chaos, and the American Army practices it on a daily basis.”

-from a post WWII debriefing of a German General

I know this story isn’t about the Army, but I thought it was fitting for a story about a ship that deliberately filled part of itself with water…

  • Necessity is the mother of invention. The USS Texas was given a seemingly impossible task. Instead of giving up, they showed ingenuity and adapted to the situation.
  • Today the USS Texas is the last surviving Dreadnought as well as the only battleship in existence today that fought in both WW1 and WW2.



Anniversary Episode 3

The content below is from Episode 143 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast


  • This week I recommend you read (or listen to the audio book) of READY PLAYER ONE
    • Steven Spielberg directed the 2018 movie rendition of this book and I thought the movie was kickass.
      • It has its flaws like I felt as if it took gaming culture and whitewashed it a bit so that it would apeal to a wider audience. But regardless, it was a fun movie.
    • But then I saw a comment on some social media post saying how the book is leagues better. I placed a hold on my Libby App and within a few weeks I was listening to the virtual adventures of Parzival.
      • I think I’ve mentioned it before, but the Libby App is the library on your phone. You download Libby and all you need to access the Library’s expansive and free catalog of books/audiobooks is a Library card.
    • Anyway, one of the main differences from the movie is that the book can take its time with details further immersing you into the story (like most books vs movies), but it also doesn’t hold punches.
    • Whereas Speilberg had to appeal to a wider audience to turn a profit after using the $175 million dollar budget, author Ernest Cline was writing a story for those who wanted to hear it. PERIOD.
      • Released in 2011, the book doesn’t shy away from the protagonist Wade Watt’s religious and political views.
    • A good example of how the book is more gritty than the movie: in the movie Wade is played by actor Tye Sheridan, a handsome, young, and physically built man. In the book, Wade is a dirt-poor, fat, short, high school student with acne… you know what a LOT of obsessed video gamers actually look like.
    • One last incentive to check out the book: while Spielberg did get the rights to reference an impressive amount of pop culture characters and titles (a central part of the story), the book didn’t have NEARLY as many hoops to jump through as a film maker would. So the best references were made that fit the story instead of what the movie studio owned/could afford.


  • For my 3rd Anniversary episode, we will be taking a look back on the past year, not just in what the Podcast has done, but what my wife and I have been through in our personal lives. This is a reflection on 2022.
    • This episode will mostly be Shannon and I recording together and just speaking, not from a script, but from memory.
  • Spotify bought (the hosting platform for this podcast) and so we get a Wrapped this year.
    • I can’t remember if we got a Wrapped last year, we might have. But this year I will be sharing those stats among others.
  • I feel like that is a high percentage… are most podcasts still technically open, but no longer crank out new episodes?
    • Just sitting there on a server somewhere with no one creating new content or listening to old content?
  • This one I have always been proud of this one because it shows the range of my topics.
    • Ever since the beginning I’ve been reaching all over the world… may not be many listeners, but the listeners I have are from everywhere.
    • 83 countries have tuned in total (not just counting 2022)
  • The Facebook and Other are most likely from me shamelessly promoting my podcast on social media all the time… but I haven’t used WhatsApp since 2015 and I don’t think I text people the link…
    • Have you Who’d a Thunkers been sharing with your friends and family?! THANK YOU!
  • It is always good to grow.
    • I don’t make money off of this podcast. I just like knowing that SOMEONE is listening to the topics I find interesting.
    • I have had quite a lot of people ask me about this podcast in person which is nice. I can talk for hours about topics I’ve covered on here.
  • This one I was baffled by… Who are these people?
Link to my 2022 WRAPPED is in the CREDIT section
  • We have about 30K listens total that can track. I know there are some sites that my podcast is on and cannot track how many listens it gets there.
    • 30K is not something a professional podcaster would be proud of… it only comes out to about 10K a year. But I’m not a professional podcaster. I do this for a sense of accomplishment and because I found a passion for hosting shows when I was just a little kid. I enjoy it.
    • So I AM proud of that number.
  • Only counting Spotify, the listenership is 92% male and 51% between the age of 28 – 34.
  • Across all platforms the listeners this past year were 78% from Spotify and 94% from the USA
  • The Blog (accompanying blog post for virtually every episode since mid-2021) has been doing very well.
    • Each year we get more views and visitors from all over the world
  • It is nice to see the blog reaches countries all over the world just like the podcast.
  • WordPress tells you stats down to how many words you typed! LOL



  • On December 23rd, 2021, I became an uncle!
    • Enjoy pictures of Shannon and me with little baby Whimsy girl!
  • Then we bought a house!
    • I almost did a separate episode just on us buying this house during one of the craziest times ever to buy a house in this country. It was nuts.
    • We literally saw the house for 15 minutes tops before the we bought it LOL.
  • My dad bought me a Kilt!
  • We went to a few weddings…
    • One wedding was in Pittsburgh and the other was in Las Vegas… and they happened within 24 hours of each other. LOL it was a spur of the moment thing and I’m so glad.
  • And then we had our own!
    • The amount of joy had that day was unbelievable.
  • Thanks for stopping by Who’d a Thunkers!
    • This episode was mostly unscripted, but if you are reading this on the blog that means you got to see all the awesome pictures!