The Universal Estimation Table

Estimate Actual Time
Very Easy 1 Hour
Easy 2 Hours
Quite Easy 4 Hours
Looks Quite Easy 6 Hours
Average 8 Hours
Looks Average 12 Hours
No Clue 16 Hours
Seems Complex 24 Hours
Complex 30 Hours
Very Complex 40 Hours
Can Take Some Time 48 Hours
Fuck 60 Hours
Yeah Looks Pretty Easy 80 Hours

Combine: “No Clue. Can take some time, but yeah… looks pretty easy” = 16 + 48 + 80 = 144 hours.

Source Unknown. See also: “Midwest Distances

The Schmidt Pain Index

This is the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, an eponymous and subjective measurement of the pain caused by bees, wasps, and ants (and other things in the order hymenoptera.) It ranges from 0-4. In Level Zero, you don’t feel any pain whatsoever; the stinger doesn’t even penetrate your skin. The humble and familiar honeybee will deliver a Level 2.

Schmidt describes Level 4, the absolute worst, as follows:

Bullet Ant

“Pure, intense, brilliant pain… like walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch nail embedded in your heel”

“That really shuts you down. It really felt like a bullet. It was instantaneous, almost even before it stung me. It was absolutely riveting. There were huge waves and crescendos of burning pain—a tsunami of pain coming out of my finger. The tsunami would crash as they do on the beach, then recede a little bit, then crash again. It wasn’t just two or three of these waves. It continued for around 12 hours. Crash. Recede. Crash. It was absolutely excruciating. There wasn’t much I could do except be aware of it and groan.”

Tarantula Hawk

“Blinding, fierce [and] shockingly electric”

“A running hair dryer has just been dropped into your bubble bath”

“Like you were walking underneath a high-voltage electric line in a wind storm, a wind gust snapped the line, and it fell on your arm. You get 20,000 volts all at once cascading through your body. It’s pure electrifying pain. Instantaneous. Very clean and sharp.”

Warrior Wasp

“Torture. You are chained in the flow of an active volcano. Why did I start this list?”

Here’s Dr. Schmidt with a giant bug on his face.

Dr Justin O. Schmidt

Some quotes and that image are from this article he penned in Esquire (cached) where he touches upon why the pain profiles are different.

“Crowded, Compartmentalized, Sticky, Spatially Inhomogeneous”

In college, I remember being blown away by a huge, physical map of metabolic pathways our Biochemistry professor once brought into class. It looked like this:

metabolic pathways

Here it is online. Kinda like a Google Maps of cellular reactions. It was impressed upon us that the interior of a cell (especially a eukaryotic one) is a really, really busy and tight and ‘goopy’ place: “crowded, compartmentalized, sticky, spatially inhomogeneous”. As that paper notes, this messy, “macromolecular crowding” helps your proteins fold properly (among several other factors.) This was a bit hard for me to appreciate since, up to then, I was only accustomed to images of cells from a light microscope or vastly simplified illustrations school texts.

I was somehow reminded of all of that after seeing some astounding paintings by Professor David S. Goodsell (Wiki, Twitter, Website). He calls the series “Molecular Landscapes.” Here are a few related to the pandemic we’ve been through.

SARS-CoV-2 and Neutralizing Antibodies, 2020

Art by David S. Goodsell

Acknowledgement: David S. Goodsell, RCSB Protein Data Bank and Springer Nature; doi: 10.2210/rcsb_pdb/goodsell-gallery-025. The painting was commissioned for the cover of a special COVID-19 issue of Nature, presented 20 August 2020, and is currently in the collection of the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences.

(Unknown Title)

Art by David S. Goodsell

Acknowledgement: Illustration by David S. Goodsell

Coronavirus, 2020

Art by David S. Goodsell

Acknowledgement: Illustration by David S. Goodsell, RCSB Protein Data Bank; doi: 10.2210/rcsb_pdb/goodsell-gallery-019. This painting depicts a coronavirus just entering the lungs, surrounded by mucus secreted by respiratory cells, secreted antibodies, and several small immune systems proteins. The virus is enclosed by a membrane that includes the S (spike) protein, which will mediate attachment and entry into cells, M (membrane) protein, which is involved in organization of the nucleoprotein inside, and E (envelope) protein, which is a membrane channel involved in budding of the virus and may be incorporated into the virion during that process. The nucleoprotein inside includes many copies of the N (nucleocapsid) protein bound to the genomic RNA.

SARS-CoV-2 Fusion, 2020

Art by David S. Goodsell

Acknowledgement: Illustration by David S. Goodsell, RCSB Protein Data Bank; doi: 10.2210/rcsb_pdb/goodsell-gallery-026. This painting depicts the fusion of SARS-CoV-2 (magenta) with an endosomal membrane (green), releasing the viral RNA genome into the cell cytoplasm (blue), where it is beginning to be translated by cellular ribosomes to create viral polyproteins. The painting includes speculative elements that are designed to highlight the process, most notably, multiple states of the viral spike protein are shown.

SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccine, 2020

Art by David S. Goodsell

Acknowledgement: Illustration by David S. Goodsell, RCSB Protein Data Bank; doi: 10.2210/rcsb_pdb/goodsell-gallery-027. Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines developed for the COVID-19 pandemic are composed of long strands of RNA (magenta) that encode the SARS-CoV-2 spike surface glycoprotein enclosed in lipids (blue) that deliver the RNA into cells. Several different types of lipids are used, including familar lipids, cholesterol, ionizable lipids that interact with RNA, and lipids connected to polyethylene glycol chains (green) that help shield the vaccine from the immune system, lengthening its lifetime following administration. In this idealized illustration, all of the lipids are arranged in a simple circular bilayer that surrounds the mRNA and the PEG strands have both extended and folded conformations. In reality, the structure may be less regular, as suggested in the NanoLetters paper […]

Friendly’s Staff Fails To Live Up To Restaurant Name, Writes “100% Sh*t Show” On Receipt by Chris Morran

I read this story a long while ago and have been searching for it since. I have related increasingly exaggerated variants of it from memory every few years to friends who laugh nervously when I lose my damn mind to the “She just went home I guess” part.

To me, few things are funnier than stories of the wittingly incompetent and their inadvertent courage in this boring, rigged dystopia we live in.

Two Messages for Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to the fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, and father figures who enrich our character, love us unconditionally, and give so much of themselves every day so we can live lives worthy of their dreams and sacrifices.

President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

And, this is real (as much as you hope it isn’t but know deep-down that it is):

Happy Father’s Day to all, including the Radical Left, RINOs, and other Losers of the world. Hopefully, eventually, everyone will come together!

A soon to be ‘reinstated’, former President

I do love the capitalized “Losers”.

You Cannot Overcook Mushrooms

Note that you can certainly burn them. That’s not ‘cooking’, however. The key here is that mushroom cell walls are composed of chitin which is far more heat-stable by virtue of the structures it forms, compared to pectin which is what you’d find in veggies1.

In this video, Dan Souza explains all this and does something quite surprising when cooking mushrooms: He sautés the mushrooms in water to ‘collapse’ them prior to cooking them in just a teeny bit of oil (and the usual salt, pepper, butter, and herbs.) Amazing.

  1. You’ll also find chitin in the “exoskeletons of arthropods, such as crustaceans and insects, the radulae of molluscs, cephalopod beaks, and the scales of fish and skin of lissamphibians.” Leave it to fungi to be weird 😍🍄 ↩︎

Are they not Mothers and Fathers and Children?

I finish just by saying this: war is an easy thing to talk about; there are not many people - a - of the generation that remember it. The right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup served with distinction in the last war. I never killed anyone but I wore uniform. But I was in London in the blitz in 1940, living in the Millbank tower, where I was born. Some different ideas have come in since. And every night, I went down to the shelter in Thames house. Every morning, I saw dockland burning. Five hundred people were killed in Westminster one night by a land mine. It was terrifying. Aren’t Arabs terrified? Aren’t Iraqis terrified? Don’t Arab and Iraqi women weep when their children die? Does bombing strengthen their determination? What fools we are to live in a generation for which war is a computer game for our children and just an interesting little channel for news item.

Every Member of Parliament tonight who votes for the Government motion will be consciously and deliberately accepting responsibility for the deaths of innocent people if the war begins, as I fear it will. Now that’s for their decision to take. But this is a quite unique debate. In my parliamentary experience, where we are asked to share responsibility for a decision we won’t really be taking, with consequences for people who have no part to play in the brutality of the regime which we are dealing with.

And I finish with this: on 24 October 1945—the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup will remember—the United Nations charter was passed. And the words of that charter are etched into my mind and move me even as I think of them. “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our life-time has caused untold suffering to mankind”. That was the pledge of that generation to this generation, and it would be the greatest betrayal of all if we voted to abandon the charter, and take unilateral action and pretend that we were doing it in the name of the international community. And I shall vote against the motion for the reasons that I have given the house.

Tony Benn, on 17 February 1998, Westminster.

Floofballs

Vox on something I’ve always wondered: Why tennis pros reject balls before a serve (and what happens to the ones they do.)

More fluff ⇒ more drag ⇒ more time for your opponent to react. So they’re looking for a ball with less fluff for their first serve, and a floofier one for their second.

But while it is provably true that floofier balls are slower, and as Serena Williams’ coach points out, the more important (and potent) thing here is the mental effect of the ritual itself and not the actual Physics 🎾

The Medieval Friendzone

A young Elizabeth I found herself on the throne of England immediately “besieged by suitors” to whom she made “no firm promises” but sent very nice-sounding letters. One such suitor was a young Eric XIV of Sweden. He was so thirsty, he offered to come to England to visit her. That’s when she fired off this missive on the 25th of February, 1559.

Elizabeth I to King Eric XIV of Sweden

Translation:

Most Serene Prince, our very dear Cousin,

A letter truly yours both in the writing and sentiment, was given us on 30 December by your very dear brother, the Duke of Finland. And while we perceive therefrom that the zeal and love of your mind towards us is not diminished, yet in part we are grieved that we cannot gratify your Serene Highness with the same kind of affection. And that indeed does not happen because we doubt in any way of your love and honour, but, as often we have testified both in words and in writing, that we have never yet conceived a feeling of that kind of affection towards any one. We therefore beg your Serene Highness again and again that you be pleased to set a limit to your love, that it advance not beyond the laws of friendship for the present nor disregard them in future… I have always given both to your brother, who is certainly a most excellent Prince and deservedly very dear to us, and also to your ambassador likewise, the same answer with scarcely any variation of the words, that we do not conceive in our heart to take a husband but highly commend the single life, and hope that your Serene Highness will not longer spend time in waiting for us.

Source

Mare of Easttown (2021) IMDb A+

Watched with LD. Kate Winslet is an amazing actor and this miniseries is her best work yet. It is excellent everything: story, score, cinematography, dialogue, casting, acting. About economic depression, blue-collar America, forgotten America, the opioid epidemic caused by unchecked Capitalist greed, community, family, single parenthood, decline in religious participation, and the country’s abysmal attitude towards the treatment of mental illness.

That’s a lot of layers and facets and it’s all done exquisitely, gut-wrenchingly well.

Memorial Day Meat Fibers

I was rather dismayed to find out that there were no more episodes of “Grill Talk” with the leader of one of the worst companies on the planet1. I wonder if the PR team that thought it was a good idea to show the ‘casual and human’ side of their ethically bankrupt CEO are still with the company.

Here’s a condensed version by umami. It is one of my favorite creepy things on the internet ♥️

  1. Disclaimer: I’m on Instagram, have an Oculus, and cannot get my family off WhatsApp. I console myself by noting that I’m never on Facebook itself and that all these companies were acquisitions whose souls haven’t been polluted by Facebook (yet… and as if that matters because it doesn’t.) ↩︎

AppleTalk

“For all that we’ve been able to achieve while many of us have been separated, the truth is that there has been something essential missing from this past year: each other,” [Tim Cook] said. “Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate.”

[…] “For now, let me simply say that I look forward to seeing your faces,” he said in closing. “I know I’m not alone in missing the hum of activity, the energy, creativity and collaboration of our in-person meetings and the sense of community we’ve all built.”

Apple asks staff to return to office three days a week starting in early September”, The Verge

“Come back or get fired. We didn’t build this giant spaceship for nothing. And how’s our overpaid middle-management supposed to micro-manage you?”

The Wolf’s Call (2019) IMDb B+

Watched with LD. Nuclear apocalypse via submarines. At least as exciting as “The Hunt for Red October”. Watch on the largest screen you have and with a good sound system. The premise and last half hour were (I hope) pure flights of fancy. Excellent stuff by Francois Civil, Reda Kateb, and Mathieu Kassovitz as Alfost1.

  1. Which Wikipedia notes is not a name: “It is an acronym designating the admiral commanding the SSBN fleet of the French Navy. It stands for AmiraL commandant la Force Océanique STratégique.” ↩︎

Buy Good Shit

Neil Panchal on substituting shitty, ineffective, and expensive consumer-grade items with their industrial and military grade equivalents. Emphases mine:

The average consumer is an idiot, so the bean counters keep milking them. Let’s stick RGB lights in what used to be the BMW, you know the ultimate driving machine. The entire consumer market is rotten. TV? It’s going to come with smart apps. Get one from NEC that’s meant for commercial use.

The average consumer wants this stuff. It sells. They want pizzaz over functionality and durability. They want shiny stuff in a bigger box.

The Onion is reality. I don’t think corporations/businesses are to blame. We’re not voting with our wallets and instead regressing into buying more fricking touch screens. The average consumer is extremely ill-informed, sometimes that’s due to the lack of time, but more often than not, it’s due diligence.

The industrial, military and commercial market doesn’t mess around. They want to purchase equipment that works reliably and performs to a specification. It’s professional and their livelihood depends on it. It sort of self filters the entire market. Shitty things drop off the radar due to poor sales.

“Overkill Objects for Everyday Life”

While I don’t think I’d serve guests beer in “ASTM Specification E960, Type II”-compliant beakers1, I will certainly try out things like this cleaner, for example.

  1. For I wouldn’t have any friends left if I did that. ↩︎

American Polarization

One of the most disheartening charts I’ve seen about the current hyperpartisan political climate. We fear each other so much more.

CBS poll on American Polarization

Source

I suppose all’s fine and dandy if you’re in news or social media and are spiritually obligated to deliver Value™ to stakeholders via those almighty engagement metrics that do nothing more than sow rancor among people who have a lot more in common than they’re led to believe. All Facebook does is hold a mirror up to society. All the news media does is report. Ethics and responsibility are for the Value™-illiterate. The only thing that matters, as the society and country you and your children live in devours itself, is making gobs of cash.

Chamunda from Odisha

This is one of the most seriously badass representations of Shakti I’ve seen in a while.

Chamunda from Odisha

The goddess is shown seated on obsessed boy (Corpse or Preta). The corpse is placed on a pedestal. The deity has a skeletal body, veins can be seen clearly. Its face is ferocious and wrathful; eyes are popping out with open mouth and frown on face. This may be influenced by the concept of Yogeshvari as third eye shown prominently over the forehead. The hair stands are erected (urdhvakesha) which look like fire flames (jvalakesha) (Rao 1989). The hairs are tied firmly with a snake and skull. On the right side of headgear a small hand in abhayamudra is depicted; same feature can be seen on left but it is an eroded condition. The goddess is wearing a skull garland, mundamala consist of 44 skulls and sarpakundalas in ears. A snake encircling around the neck. The deity is shown wearing a bajubandh made by the design of snake, Same ornaments are replicated at wrist and ankle. It is an artistic excellence where snake is shown holding its own tail in mouth which has formed a beautiful circle. The deity is shown wearing ornate mekhala. The parikara of the image is ornate depicting the elephant skin in low relief. The representations of pair of owls carrying garland is shown on portion of elephant’s ear on a left side. The depiction of peacock, bell and conch shell can be observed on a right side. The depiction of devotee is seen beside the right foot of the deity. The devotee is shown sitting in vajrasana has a prominent headgear with circular karnakundalas. It is holding a sword in its right arm shown wearing an ornate bajubandha and keyur. The devotee is in namaskarmudra, head is shown slightly raised upwards watching a divine appearance of the goddess. The five jackals are shown fetching flesh from corpse which is beneath of the deity. The small female attendant (11.5 cm) of the goddess is shown on a left side of the pedestal below the left foot of the corpse. This female attendance replicates the main goddess shown in skeletal form holding dagger and kapala in right and left hand respectively.

Unkule R, Joge G, Mushrif V, “Early Medieval Representation of Human Anatomy: A Case Study of Chamunda Stone Image from Dharamsala, Odisha”, Heritage: Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies in Archaeology 5 (2017): 191‐200