Nov 16, 2020
One Road Out
Play • 32 min
Alec had spent countless summer days near Mammoth Pool Reservoir, in the Sierra National Forest. His memories were filled with fun and relaxation. As Alec and a friend arrived at the lake the first night of the Labor Day Weekend, there was little to indicate that this weekend would be any different than the trove of happy memories he had of this place.
Futility Closet
Futility Closet
Greg Ross
328-A Canine Prisoner of War
In 1944, British captives of the Japanese in Sumatra drew morale from an unlikely source: a purebred English pointer who cheered the men, challenged the guards, and served as a model of patient fortitude. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of Judy, the canine POW of World War II. We'll also consider the frequency of different birthdays and puzzle over a little sun. Intro: Sherlock Holmes wrote 20 monographs. In 1863, Charles Dickens' hall clock stopped sounding. Sources for our feature on Judy: Robert Weintraub, No Better Friend: One Man, One Dog, and Their Incredible Story of Courage and Survival in World War II, 2016. S.L. Hoffman, "Judy: The Unforgettable Story of the Dog Who Went to War and Became a True Hero," Military History 32:1 (May 2015), 72-72. Rebecca Frankel, "Dogs at War: Judy, Canine Prisoner of War," National Geographic, May 18, 2014. Robert Weintraub, "The True Story of Judy, the Dog Who Inspired Her Fellow Prisoners of War to Survive," Irish Times, June 2, 2015. Jane Dalton, "Judy, the Life-Saving PoW Who Beat the Japanese," Sunday Telegraph, May 31, 2015. "Heroine Dog's Medal Goes on Display," [Cardiff] Western Mail, Aug. 26, 2006. "Medal Awarded to Dog Prisoner of War Goes on Public Display," Yorkshire Post, Aug. 23, 2006. Amber Turnau, "The Incredible Tale of Frank Williams," Burnaby [B.C.] Now, March 19, 2003. Nicholas Read, "Prison Camp Heroine Judy Was History's Only Bow-Wow PoW," Vancouver Sun, March 12, 2003. "London Salutes Animal Veterans," Charlotte Observer, May 28, 1983. Frank G. Williams, "The Dog That Went to War," Vancouver Sun, April 6, 1974. "Judy, Dog VC, Dies," [Montreal] Gazette, March 23, 1950. "Judy, British War Dog, Dies; to Get Memorial," [Wilmington, Del.] Morning News, March 21, 1950. "The Tale of a V.C. Dog," [Adelaide] Chronicle, Jan. 30, 1947. "Judy to Receive Dogs' V.C.," The Age, May 2, 1946. "Judy: The Dog Who Became a Prisoner of War,", July 24, 2015. "Prisoner of War Dog Judy -- PDSA Dickin Medal and Collar to Be Presented to the Imperial War Museum," People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, Aug. 21, 2006. "PDSA Dickin Medal Stories: Judy," PDSA Schools (accessed Jan. 3, 2021). Listener mail: Andrew Gelman et al., "Bayesian Data Analysis (Third Edition)," 1995-2020. "Keynote: Andrew Gelman - Data Science Workflow" (video), Dec. 21, 2017. Becca R. Levy, Pil H. Chung, and Martin D. Slade, "Influence of Valentine's Day and Halloween on Birth Timing," Social Science & Medicine 73:8 (2011), 1246-1248. "Tony Meléndez," Wikipedia (accessed Dec. 24, 2020). "Thalidomide," Wikipedia (accessed Jan. 9, 2020). Neil Vargesson, "Thalidomide-Induced Teratogenesis: History and Mechanisms," Birth Defects Research Part C: Embryo Today: Reviews 105:2 (2015), 140-156. "Biography," (accessed Jan. 10, 2021). "Tony Melendez Sings for Pope John Paul II - 1987" (video), Heart of the Nation, Sept. 27, 2016. This week's lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Lucie. Here's a corroborating link (warning -- this spoils the puzzle). You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on Google Podcasts, on Apple Podcasts, or via the RSS feed at Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- you can choose the amount you want to pledge, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website. Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode. If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at Thanks for listening!
31 min
Caroline Crampton
Poison Pen
Nothing could bad could possibly happen here, the inhabitants of the peaceful English village say to each other. Until the first poison pen letter arrives. No major spoilers about clues or endings in this episode. However, there is some mention or discussion of the books listed below. Also, be aware there is a very brief mention of suicide. Books and sources: —The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie —“The Lernean Hydra” in The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie —Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers —Policemen in the Precinct by E.C.R. Lorac —The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters by Enid Blyton —Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh —Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers —Poison in the Pen by Patricia Wentworth —Details of the James Forster poison pen case in Manfield, Yorkshire —"The Poison Pen Letter: the Early 20th Century's Strangest Crime Wave" by Curtis Evans —Fear Stalks the Village by Ethel Lina White Thanks to today’s sponsor, Backblaze. You can get a 15 day free trial at To be the first to know about future developments with the podcast, sign up for the newsletter at The podcast is on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram as @ShedunnitShow, and you can find it in all major podcast apps. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the next episode. Click here to do that now in your app of choice. Find a full transcript of this episode at Music by Audioblocks and Blue Dot Sessions. See for more details.
22 min
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