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068-The Niihau Incident

By Greg and Sharon Ross

After taking part in the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese fighter pilot Shigenori Nishikaichi crash-landed on the isolated Hawaiian island of Niihau. In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll recount the six days of escalating drama that unfolded between the desperate pilot and the terrified islanders. We'll also hear a list of open questions from Greg's research and puzzle over why a man can't sell a solid gold letter opener. Sources for our feature on the Niihau incident: William Hallstead and Raymond Denkhaus, "The Niihau Incident," World War II 14:5 (January 2000), 38. Andrew Carroll, "A Japanese Pilot Brings World War II to Hawaii's Farthest Shore," American History 48:5 (December 2013): 29-30. Richard B. Frank, "Zero Hour on Niihau," World War II 24:2 (July 2009): 54-61. "U.S. Won First WWII Victory Just Days After Pearl Harbor," Associated Press, Dec. 27, 1991. One particularly gruesome account of the whipping of Emmanuel Dannan appeared in The Living Age in 1855: Accordingly, the man procured six whips -- the toughest kind of swamp willow -- which, by his own confession, were four feet in length, and as large at the butt as one's little finger and about 9 o'clock at night took Emanuel -- who still persisted in telling the truth -- to the loft of the cabin, and having stripped him to his shirt, wound that around his neck, and tied him up, by a cord, by both wrists, to a rafter, so that his feet but barely touched the ground. Here he whipped him for two hours, only resting at intervals to procure a fresh whip, or to demand of his victim that he should own that he told a lie. The boy's only answer was, 'Pa, I told the truth. Pa, I did not lie.' The girl [his sister, the only witness] said that Emanuel did not cry much; and it is probable that he fainted during a portion of the time, as the injuries upon his body, testified that there was not a spot, from the armpits to the ankles, large enough to place your finger upon, but was covered with livid welts; and that in very many places the skin was broken! In this account, which is explicitly directed "to the Sabbath school children of the United States," the foster father tries to "whip the lie out of" Emmanuel -- that is, persuade him to agree that he had imagined his mother's crime. In other tellings the lie is whipped into him -- he's urged to tell a cover story to protect his mother, and he cries, "Pa, I will not lie!" Sources for this week's lateral thinking puzzles: Kyle Hendrickson, Mental Fitness Puzzles, 1998. Erwin Brecher, Lateral Thinking Puzzles, 2010. You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on iTunes or via the RSS feed at http://feedpress.me/futilitycloset. Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet -- on our Patreon page you can pledge any amount per episode, and all contributions are greatly appreciated. You can change or cancel your pledge at any time, and we've set up some rewards to help thank you for your support. You can also make a one-time donation via the Donate button in the sidebar 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 podcast@futilitycloset.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for listening!

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