Hey there, initiates, #13 here with a quick note about the future of this podcast.
Before you panic, no, we’re not going on hiatus or anything like that. Let’s shut that line of thought down now.
When the podcast first started, we had high hopes that there would be a flood of people interested in contributing their stories — but let’s face it, it was downright Pollyanna-ish to expect a sudden flood of story submissions. I appreciate all those who have contributed, like Dorothy and Alex and Rob and Rod and Michael and Robert and Charlotte and Sam and Jenn and Gator and Chris, but let’s face it, this basically a one-man show. I’m fine with that, but it did lead me to set an overly optimistic production schedule which assumed that by now I’d be producing three or four episodes every series. Instead I’m producing somewhere between six to eight. As a result I’m flirting with burnout.
So starting with this episode, I’m switching to a new release schedule that will help combat that. There will be no more distinct series with gaps between them. Instead new episodes will be released every three weeks. You will still be getting the same number of episodes, they’ll just be more evenly distributed throughout the year.
Bonus episodes will become rarer. I may still occasionally use them to present supplementary material like interviews or commentary that don’t fit into the main episode. The shorter, standalone bonus episodes will just become regular episodes. Errata episodes will drop every year or so, unless I suddenly stop making mistakes.
Just to clarify, we are still taking show ideas from others!. Right now #6 and #7 have some irons in the fire, so does #42, and I have a few episodes that might require the legal expertise of #2 and #23.
Well, that’s out of the way. Let’s get on with the corrections and updates. But first, shots. Praise be to the Grand Jackalope and her mysterious ways.
Since the release of “Hurricane Coming Through,” about baseball’s “designated runner” Herbert Lee Washington, there have been some major changes in Herb’s life. In early 2021 he sued McDonald’s, alleging that the company discriminated against minority franchisees by limiting their ability to expand outside of inner city markets. Rather than let the case go to trial, McDonald’s chose to settle the lawsuit for $33.5 million and buy out Washington’s remaining franchises.
In the YouTube comments on “He Whooped to See Him Burn,” Brian Ziolkowski claims Simon Girty was not in Sandusky after the Moravian Massacre and that the man “whooped” as Col. Crawford burned to death was one of Simon’s brothers, either James or George. That opens up intriguing possibilities, but seems to contradict the eyewitness testimony of Dr. Knight. Unfortunately Brian did not provide any sources I could follow up with. Hopefully one of you can enlighten me.
There has been no real news about “The Icelander” Thorfinn Karlsefni over the last year… but his wife Gudrid made headlines. In April 2022 a statue of Gudrid called “The First White Mother in America” was removed from its pedestal in Snæfellsness, Iceland during the middle of the night. It resurfaced a few days later in Reykjavík, stuffed into a model rocket ship by two artists who intended to launch it into space as a comment on the imperialist and racist ideology that led to the statue’s creation. You can find the whole story up on Hyperallergic, it’s great.
As of January 2023, the Thorfinn Karlsefni statue has yet to be returned to Fairmount Park. Gudrid, though, is already back in Snæfellsness.
After “The Prophet of the Pacific” aired I was contacted by several of Ira Sparks’ descendants. While we were trying to figure out if any of his possessions had ever made their way back to his family, we stumbled across an article saying that several items had wound up in the Miami County Museum in Peru, Indiana. One of those items was Sparks’ gun. If that had been recovered from the wreck of the Dauntless, that puts the lie to the rumor that he had been attacked by cannibals who wanted to take it from him. If you’re near Peru, could you maybe check in with the museum and see if the gun is still on display? I doubt it, but I’d love to know one way or the other.
In the YouTube comments for “Suffer Little Children,” a Faithist dropped by to inform me that the Shalam colony in New Mexico actually had a written charter. However, the only evidence they provided was a 30 minute long video which consists of still images of a 274 page book on Faithism. I don’t have time to skim through that stuff and they declined to provide any more details. So let’s mark this one as “contested” and leave it at that.
With regards to “You Are Who You Eat,” many, many people have pointed out that the alcoholic version of an Arnold Palmer is a John Daly and not a Tim Daly, as we reported. John Daly is a golfer. Tim Daly is Joe from Wings. Or the voice of Superman, if you prefer. I am going to assume this is some sort of Mandela Effect and I have slipped into an alternate universe where Tim and John switched names.
On the YouTube version of “Westward, Huss” our series about spurious Viking relics found throughout the United States, user C.J.M. 1997 wondered aloud why the markings on Dighton Rock could be so vivid if they were ancient. Actually, there’s a simple answer for that – due to the limitations of early photographic techniques, most photographers filled in the markings on the rock with chalk to make them stand out. This actually creates its own set of problems, because during the chalking process you have to figure out which markings are intentional and which ones are natural, accidental, or have been added later.
Dighton Rock is actually one of the easer cases because the markings are relatively deep. Compare that to the Westford Knight, where the markings are relatively shallow and it’s unclear what is an original petroglyph and what has been gouged into the soft stone by amateur archaeologists suffering from pareidolia.
That wasn’t all C.J.M. 1997 had to say. On “Tales from the Cryptid,” the episode about the Set animal or sha, they noted that the short-necked giraffe bears an uncanny resemblance depictions of the sha. And I agree! The problem with identifying the sha as a short-necked giraffe is why anyone would choose something as gentle and inoffensive as a short-necked giraffe as the totem animal for a god of strength, violence and chaos. As much as I hate to say it, I don’t think we’ll ever know what the sha is supposed to represent. I bet an ancient Egyptian would have easily been able to decode the iconography and symbolism of its depiction, but we’re just missing the cultural context necessarily to truly understand it.
Initiate #23 asked a penetrating question about “Wonder Marvelously”: how on Earth did Geoffrey Pyke plan on moving something as large and ungainly as the Habakkuk iceberg ship? I thought I’d addressed this in the episode itself, but apparently I just completely forgot! The short answer is that electric motors would drive submerged propeller screws, six on each side of the iceberg. Multiple propellers allowed the ship to move surprisingly quickly, and also provided redundancy. They also removed the need for a rudder, since you could maneuver the ship by turning off the propellers on side or the other, tank tread style. (The Admiralty insisted on a rudder anyway, and one was added to appease them.)
Drawing on his own experiences in Vietnam, #23 also asked how it would be physically possible for planes to takeoff and land from Habakkuk since it would be virtually impossible for the craft to maintain the required speeds (30 knots into the wind, I think he said). The short answer is that takeoff and landing standards were very different for propeller-driven World War II era aircraft, especially lightweight British planes made of wood. Having said that, those standards did change rapidly during the war and Habakkuk would not have been able to serve as a carrier for most of the planes in service by war’s end. This was one of many factors that contributed to the project’s demise — though hardly the primary factor.
Someone complained about an anachronism in the episode “Your Heart’s Sorrow.” I will gladly admit that the Junior Jumble wasn’t created until 1970, so there’s no way that Christian K. Ross could have been doing it in the evening paper. This is what’s called “a joke.” I was originally going to say he was doing the crossword puzzle, except that wouldn’t be invented until 1913, so instead I went with the most ludicrous example I could think of. Apparently it wasn’t ludicrous enough.
Regarding “A Warning to Future Man,” friend of the podcast Jim shares the fact that editor Raymond Arthur Palmer’s teenage friends Julie Schwartz and Mort Weisinger went on to be editors at DC Comics. In 1961 they honored their old friend by giving his name to a superhero — the Atom. The Silver Age version that shrinks from from Legends of Tomorrow, and not the Golden Age version who’s just a short dude with a Napoleon complex. Thanks, Jim.
Someone asked why “Air Crash Museum”, the episode on the Navy’s rigid airship program, did not include a mention of the DN-1, the navy’s first dirigible from way back in 1917. The answer is simple: the DN-1 was a blimp and not a rigid airship. Which is a pity, because otherwise the DN-1 would have fit right in with its cousins in the Z series. The contractor, the Connecticut Aircraft Corporation, had no experience building airships and liked to cut corners. The blimp was so heavy it could barely stay aloft — on its first first test flight it sank into shallow water and the captain invited spectators to come on board for the ship’s “first submerged flight.” The Navy removed one of the DN-1’s engines to lighten the load, and the ship just barely passed its second test flight… or it would have, if the extra strain on the remaining engines hadn’t burned out the transmission and threatened to set fire to the entire ship. Repairs took a week, and then the DN-1 was damaged yet again while being towed to the site of its third test flight. The Navy decided it wasn’t worth repairing, and who can blame them.
In the episode “Worse Than Frankenstein” I pointed out that the time between the search party setting out and returning was only fifteen minutes. The round trip distance was about a mile, which involved trekking uphill in the dark and operating a secured gate, implying that their encounter with the Flatwoods Monster lasted mere moments. Friend Jim pointed out the search party had even less time than I suggested, since they would presumably have to undo the gate on the way back down the hill. Yes and no. According to contemporary accounts everyone just vaulted over the fence on the way back down rather than waste time fiddling with the gate. Yes, even Mrs. May in her work dress. (Presumably poor half-conscious Gene Lemon was just hurled over the fence by the older boys.)
I found myself wondering why our recent episode “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” on William Dudley Pelley, had been doing numbers — well, what passes for “doing numbers” in these parts. I did not realize that I was apparently piggybacking off of interest in a far more popular podcast — Rachel Maddow’s Ultra, which is about the disastrous prosecution of U.S. vs. McWilliams. Now, there are several instances where Maddow presents a version of events that’s at odds with my version of events. I will gladly concede she has for more information about the prosecution of McWilliams than I do, and that she has access to both primary sources and the latest scholarship.
However, when it comes to Pelley and the Silver Legion there are more substantial differences. First, Maddow claims the two Marines who were drilling the Silver Legion in San Diego did not voluntarily turn in their students. I went back to check me sources after hearing that, and found them to be ambiguous at best. That’s enough for me to issue a warning, if not a correction, but it doesn’t really change anything about the overall story.
On the other hand, Maddow also makes one statement which is demonstrably false, that Pelley’s securities fraud prosecution happened after the collapse of the McWilliams case instead of eight years earlier. It makes me wonder what other facts she might be getting wrong, and it blunts the message of the podcast somewhat. Which is a pity, because I think we right now we desperately need to hear its message that right-wing authoritarian movements have been a problem in this country for a long time and that it’s time to stop kicking this particular can down the road.
With regards to the episode “520%”, initiate #23 asked where, exactly, Colonel Robert Ammon came from. The answer is in the episode – Pittsburgh’s South Side — but the pedant in me feels obligated to point out that at the time of Ammon’s birth the South Side was an independent municipality called Birmingham, which was only absorbed into the city proper in 1872. I left that detail out of the episode for brevity’s sake.
Featuring Corrections For
- Hurricane Coming Through
- He Whooped to See Them Burn
- The Icelander
- The Prophet of the Pacific
- Suffer Little Children
- You Are Who You Eat
- Westward Huss: New England
- Tales from the Cryptid
- Wonder Marvelously
- Your Heart’s Sorrow
- A Warning to Future Man
- Shenandoahs: Air Crash Museum
- Worse Than Frankenstein
- Seven Minutes in Heaven