A strangely legal act of public indecency

In a public place, a man deliberately exposes a portion of his anatomy to a horrified crowd of men, women, and children. Several children burst into tears and one outraged father almost tackles the man. After the incident the man is dismissed from his job. He receives hate mail and a local newspaper brands him a monster, but there is never any suggestion that he should be prosecuted, and the police are never involved. Why not?

By Mark Frauenfelder at 1:23 pm Tue, Sep 2, 2014

Can you figure out the answer to this brain teaser?

Also in this epsiode:

William McGonagall has been called "the only truly memorable bad poet in our language," responsible for tin-eared verse that could "give you cauliflower ears just from silent reading"

Alas! Lord and Lady Dalhousie are dead, and buried at last,
Which causes many people to feel a little downcast;
And both lie side by side in one grave,
But I hope God in His goodness their souls will save.

McGonagall was mocked, ridiculed, and pelted with trash, but he kept writing for 25 years. In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll sample his poetry, follow the poor poet's sadly heroic wanderings, and wonder whether he may have been in on the joke after all. We'll also consider a South Carolina seventh grader's plea to Ronald Reagan.

GET Futility Closet: RSS | On iTunes | Download episode | Listen on Stitcher | Show notes for this episode

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.

Image: James Dawson Arrested for Indecent Exposure Arrested at North Shields Police Station on 9th June 1902

Published 1:23 pm Tue, Sep 2, 2014

About the Author

Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the founding editor-in-chief of MAKE. He is editor-in-chief of Cool Tools and co-founder of Wink Books. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects


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