About This Show
Hosted by Greg and Sharon Ross, Futility Closet is a celebration of the quirky and the curious, the thought-provoking and the simply amusing. This podcast is an audio companion to the popular website that catalogs more than 8,000 curiosities in history, language, mathematics, literature, philosophy, and art. In each episode we explore intriguing finds from our research, share listener contributions, and tackle an entertaining puzzle.
Most Recent Episode
050-The Great Tea Race
4 days ago
In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow the dramatic 14,000-mile clipper ship race of 1866, in which five ships competed fiercely to be the first to London with the season's tea. We'll also track the importance of mulch to the readers of the comic book Groo the Wanderer and puzzle over the effects of Kool-Aid consumption on a woman's relationships.
Jack Spurling's 1926 painting Ariel & Taeping, China Tea Clippers Race, above, depicts two of the front-runners in the closely contested 1866 race to carry the season's first tea from China to London. The winner remained uncertain throughout the 14,000-mile course; the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette declared it "the closest run ever recorded ... an event of unprecedented occurrence."
Our sources for that segment:
Basil Lubbock, The China Clippers, 1914.
Mike Dash, "The Great Tea Race of 1866," smithsonian.com, Dec. 15, 2011 (accessed March 16, 2015).
The Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, Sept. 12, 1866.
John T. Irwin, Hart Crane's Poetry, 2011.
Filing Cabinet of the Damned reports on the significance of mulch to Groo the Wanderer.
This week's lateral thinking puzzle was submitted by listener Nick Madrid.
This episode is sponsored by our patrons and by The Great Courses -- go to http://www.thegreatcourses.com/closet to order from eight of their best-selling courses at up to 80 percent off the original price.
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