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
047-The Scariest Travel Books Ever Written
6 days ago
Victorian children's author Favell Lee Mortimer published three bizarre travel books that described a world full of death, vice, and peril. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll sample her terrifying descriptions of the lands beyond England and wonder what led her to write them.
We'll also review the movie career of an Alaskan sled dog, learn about the Soviet Union's domestication of silver foxes, and puzzle over some curious noises in a soccer stadium.
Favell Lee Mortimer's travel books for children are all available online:
The Countries of Europe Described (1850)
Far Off, or, Asia and Australia Described (1852)
Far Off, or, Africa and America Described (1854)
In 2005 Todd Pruzan published a collection of the most xenophobic passages, titled The Clumsiest People in Europe: Or, Mrs. Mortimer's Bad-Tempered Guide to the Victorian World.
Here's a BBC documentary on 1925 serum run to Nome:
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ed_umUicLjQ?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Fast Company has an article about the breeding of friendly foxes by Russian researchers.
And National Geographic goes into greater depth regarding the genetics and evolutionary aspects of domestication in this 2011 article.
This week's lateral thinking puzzle was submitted by listener David White, who sent these corroborating links (warning -- these spoil the puzzle).
You can listen using the player above, dow