Cautionary Tales Double Header – A Monkey For Mayor / A Screw Loose At 17,000 Feet

13th October, 2023

This week, we’ve twice the storytelling fun for you: two Cautionary Tales shorts, previously only available to Pushkin+ subscribers.

[Apple] [Spotify] [Stitcher]

A Monkey for Mayor: It was supposed to be a publicity stunt, but when the man who dressed as Hartlepool United’s monkey mascot stood in a mayoral election… he won. Actual politicians predicted disaster – since thousands of workers and millions of dollars were now in the hands of a complete novice.
But H’Angus the Monkey proved to be a more effective leader than anyone had predicted, raising interesting questions about how we select the best people to be our managers and mayors.


The main sources on the Hartlepool elections were contemporary reports from The TimesThe Guardian and the BBC.

On random promotions, see In Praise of Random Promotions and Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, Cesare Garofalo The Peter principle revisited: A computational study Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications,
Volume 389, Issue 3, 2010.

A Screw Loose At 17,000 Feet: Can you tell the difference between an A211-7D bolt and an A211-8C? Well, nor could the tired and stressed engineer fitting a cockpit windshield to Flight 5390. The difference is tiny, but the consequences of muddling them up – which played out at 17,000 ft – were dramatic.
Such design flaws are common — and result in far more loose aircraft windows than you would ever imagine.


The ideal source on Maintenance Guy and his travails is Matt Parker’s wonderful book Humble Pi; the official accident report (pdf) is also worth reading.

The terrifying aftermath was described in contemporary reports from the Sunday Mercury, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The New York Times and the Financial Times.

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