Questions and Answers: Volume 19

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Podcast Transcript

The month of June was originally called Iunius by the Romans. Back then it had 29 days and was the fourth month of the year. 

Today, it has 30 days, and it is the sixth month of the year. 

It used to be a bad omen to be married in June, and now it is the most popular month to be married in.

However, despite all the changes in June, there is one thing that has remained constant: questions and answers.

Stay tuned for the 19th installment of Questions and Answers on this episode of Everything Everywhere Daily.


Lets start with the first question that comes from Timothy Johnson who asks, I’m curious about Harry’s Razors. You mentioned that you heard about them on a podcast. Is that podcast “Our Fake History”? More seriously, If you had to pick your five favorite castles in Europe what would they be? Thanks!

The podcast where I first heard of Harry’s Razors was the Revolutions Podcast by Mike Duncan. 

As for the top castles in Europe, in no particular order, I’d say:

  • Neuschwanstein in Bavaria
  • Prague Castle
  • Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany
  • Bran Castle aka Dracula’s Castle in Romania
  • Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal

These are places that would be fortified, not just palaces. If it included palaces, it would be a very different list.

Kevin Hultgren asks, Why do all the Scandinavian flags have the same design? Finnish names seem to have different conventions than do Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish. Might that have something to do with the Vikings?


As for the language, Finnish is a completely different beast from all the other languages in Nordic countries. Finland is basically the difference between Nordic countries and Scandinavian countries. Finland is not a Scandinavian country because Finnish is not a Scandinavian language.

You are correct that all five of the Nordic Countries have very similar flags. They all have what is known as a Nordic or Scandanavian Cross.

It all started with the Danes.

The oldest of the flags is the flag of Denmark which dates back to the year 1219. It is considered to be the oldest flag in the world. 

The Danes were the most powerful country in the region for centuries. They ruled Norway, and Norway eventually adopted a flag based on the Danish flag, save for a blue cross in the middle of the white cross. 

The Danes also controlled Iceland, and when Iceland became independent in 1918, they adopted a flag based on the Danish flag. Actually, it is simply the Norwegian flag with the red and blue colors switched. 

Sweden was controlled by Norway and adopted the current flag in the early 20th century, again based on the same design but with the Swedish national colors. 

Finland selected their flag from a contest in 1917, and the design was selected happened to be similar to other countries in the region. 

Associate producer Cameron Kieffer asks, Gary, not sure if you’ve read the three body problem, Netflix did an adaptation of the book. But my question is if there is an intelligent life in the universe, should humans actively try to find and communicate with it? Personally, I think if SETI could transmit your episodes daily, we’d find the only life worth finding.

If you remember back, I did an episode on the Fermi Paradox. The Fermi Paradox simply asks the question, if there are alien civilizations, where are they?

The Three Body Problem’s approach to the question is what is known as the Dark Forest Hypothesis. In fact, the Dark Forest Hypothesis is based on the Three Body Problem books. 

The Dark Forest Hypothesis proposes that the reason why we can’t see alien civilizations is that everyone is hiding from each other. If they make themselves known, they run the risk of destruction. Likewise, if you were to find another civilization, you should want to destroy it before they do the same to you. 

I think the Dark Forest Hypothesis is highly, highly unlikely. I don’t think there will ever be a technology that makes interstellar travel easy. There is no need to attack another civilization for resources. There are ample resources in pretty much any solar system and the cost of going to another star system to steal another civilization’s resources is just too high. 

The only thing of value you could get from an intelligent civilization is information. Information can be shared and is far more valuable than any physical resource, and it is much easier to trade than trying to physically travel. 

So, if you wanted a movie that would accurately depict what would happen if we found an intelligent civilization, I think it would be Contact. 

Elizabeth Coykendall asks How about the information Terrance Howard is coming out saying? Changing the way we look at the periodic table and what not. The things he is stating are super intriguing, especially if he is on to something.

Elizabeth, I’m going to put this as bluntly as I can so there is absolutely no misunderstanding. Terrance Howard is insane. 

I don’t even mean that as an insult or as a pejorative. I think he actually is suffering from a mental illness. 

His statements are so crazy and delusional I don’t know what else you could conclude other than he suffers from severe narcissistic personality disorder. 

The foundation of his beliefs is that 1×1=2. Yes, you heard that right. When you hear his explanation, he clearly doesn’t know the difference between addition and multiplication, which most people learn in 1st or 2nd grade. 

Then, he thinks that the square root of 2 is rational and that 13 equals pi. 

He claims to have discovered a grand unified theory of everything at the age of seven, wrote it down, and lost it when his dog ate it. 

He uses fancy-sounding words that he doesn’t know the meaning of, and the context in which he uses them doesn’t even make sense. 

Like most people with narcissistic personality disorder, he believes he is persecuted by some conspiracy. “They” are trying to hide the fact that 1×1=2 from the world. It is all the work of big math. 

He claims to have developed a new form of flight, which he can’t prove. His ideas of the period table are based on something developed by an artist named Walter Russell. 


Famous scientists often receive rants from people who claim to have single-handedly reinvented all of science, and “they” are prevented from the world from finding out about their discovery. 

The only difference between Terrance Howard’s rantings about how he has rediscovered all of math and science and someone shouting on a street corner is that he’s a celebrity, so other talk show hosts humor him. 

10-year-old completionist club member Spencer asks, “Do you remember your first trip to another country? Where was it, and what did you do?”

The first trip I took to another country was when my family went on a road trip to Niagara Falls when I was ten years old. We crossed into Ontario and drove to the Canadian side of the falls. 

After that, I never left the United States again until I was in college, and the national debate tournament was in Bellingham, Washington, just over the border from British Columbia. 

The first trip I took outside of North America was in 1999 when I did an around-the-world trip for work that took me to Tokyo, Taipei, Singapore, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, and London. 

EmuKing on the discord server asks, What’s the topic that’s been on your list the longest, and why haven’t you covered it yet.

The running list I keep of potential show ideas currently has 921 items. When I add something new, I put it at the bottom of the list. When I do an episode, I take it off the list.

The idea which is currently sitting at the top of the list is the US occupation of the Philippines. The reason I haven’t done it? There is no particular reason other than I wanted to do several episodes first, which I’ve done, including the Spanish-American War and the History of the Philippines.

VladSander asks, Of all the topics you have ever covered or want to cover, which has been the hardest to separate fiction from reality?

There is one episode I had to abandon in the middle of writing it. It was the episode on the first American serial killer, H.H. Holmes. The reason I had to abandon it is because so many of the stories I read about him turned out to be false. 


The newspapers of the time greatly exaggerated the crimes he committed and when I began to research it I put it on hold because the his reality was so different from the story I thought I was going to be telling.

I did eventually do the episode, but it was very different from what I thought it would originally be. 

Wayne Rothe asks,  I’m Canadian. Years ago I met an older man in a military museum in Boston who insisted that the U.S. has never lost a war. I mentioned Vietnam and left it at that. You could also make a case for losses in Iraq, Afghanistan and the War of 1812. Do you think the U.S. has lost any wars?

It depends on what you mean by winning and losing. There is losing on the battlefield, and then there is failure to achieve objectives. 

I’m not sure anyone won anything in the War of 1812. No territory changed hands. Neither side was definitely defeated. Both sides can claim that there were defensive reasons for why they could claim success. 

In Vietnam, the United States clearly didn’t achieve its objectives. The communists took over the whole country, so I think that would be a loss. 

In Iraq, the objective of the first war was the liberation of Kuwait, and the objective of the second war was the removal of Saddam Hussein, both of which were successful. Both conflicts also had lopsided victories on the battlefield for the Americans. 

In Afghanistan, the initial objective was the removal of Al Qaeda training camps from Afghanistan, which was successful. However, the Americans then stuck around for 20 years and eventually just…..left, with the Taliban back in power.

When you get down to it, very few wars result in unconditional surrender or a complete one-sided victory. 

Connie Faour Carroll asks Have you ever been on a river cruise! If so, which river? If not, which river would you choose first? I would choose the Nile. (submitted from a 6th grade Social Studies teacher).

Yes, I have, but I’ve only done one, and that was on the Nile River. I went by train from Cairo to Luxor and then back up via a river boat, which took several days. Along the way, we stopped at some smaller temples that most people never get to visit, particularly the Edfu and Kom Ombo Temples. 

I’ve never done a river cruise in Europe, but I’ve been to many cities where riverboats dock in the middle of town. 

Mfein from Discord asks Who is your favorite Wisconsin Badger of all time? Football, basketball, or otherwise. (Assuming you’re a Badger fan)

In football, it has to be Ron Dayne, the NCAA all-time leading rusher, if you include bowl games. On defense, I’d have to go with JJ Watt. 

In basketball, I have to go with Frank Kaminsky, who led the Badgers to the finals of the NCAA tournament. 

Jesus Chan asks Gary, good morning from Laredo, Texas. If humans have been around for approximately 190,000 years and we live on a planet covered by over 70% water, why haven’t we been able to find an efficient method of desalination for seawater?

For starters, the fact that humans have been around in some form for hundreds of thousands of years doesn’t really explain why something hasn’t been discovered. 

In reality, we are only 1 to 3 centuries into the scientific revolution, depending on how you define it, and maybe a bit over 100 years from having a detailed understanding of the structure of the atom. 

That being said, the problem of desalination is trickier than it seems. Ions of sodium and chlorine float around in water at the atomic level. Removing the sodium and chlorine atoms from water is difficult, given their size. 

One option is to boil the water, which takes energy. You can increase the temperature of the water, reduce the pressure surrounding the water, or both. Regardless of how you do it, it requires an input of energy. Assuming you have enough energy, desalination is very easy. 

The other option is to use some sort of filter. If you had a filter that could filter out the ions, you still have a problem. If ions can’t pass through the filter, they pile up on the other side, making it difficult for the filter to work. Filters can also wear out and get clogged up over time and require replacing.

Absent any sort of miracle technology, which could come in the form of a membrane, desalinization will require a great deal of energy or expensive filters. 

That does it for this month. Again, there were far more questions submitted than I could answer.

If you would like to get your question read on next month’s Q&A episode, please join the show’s Facebook group or Discord server. Links to both are in the show notes.


The Executive Producer of Everything Everywhere Daily is Charles Daniel. 

The associate producers are Ben Long and Cameron Kieffer. 

I want to use this opportunity to remind everyone of a new podcast that I’m a part of. The show is called Respecting the Beer. Each week, I sit down with expert brewer and former NASA astrophysicist Bobby Fleshman, and we talk about the science, history, culture, and economics of beer and brewing. 

So, if you are interested in beer, homebrewing, or any other aspect of art, please check out Respecting the Beer.

You can find it wherever you listen to this podcast, or you can click on the link in the show notes.