Sep 17Liked by Helen Lewis

> I thought this was so you don’t electrocute yourself with wet hands

> but maybe I have been living a lie perpetuated by Big Bathroom String?

That's right. Though standard switches are not quite banned in bathrooms, they are... oooh, *sucks teeth and shakes head*. You can have standard switches just outside the bathroom, presumably on the grounds that anyone gymnastic enough to get their wet paws on the switch while still having a leg inside the bath, is beyond all standards-based help.

This is also why standard plug sockets aren't allowed, unless they're at least three metres away from the bath, and thus why some places have shaver sockets instead (which are almost the same as European standard plugs, but (natch) different to the electrical twitcher's eye).

All of which is of course a lead-up to the knobbly magnificence of the UK plug. Disproportionately long earth pin? Yup. Partly insulated hot pins, so little exploratory fingers can't shock themselves? Yup. Deliberately stiff, so that children can't pull them out? Yes, and OK, this is also an arthritis problem (and yes, this is why our sockets have switches, though almost no-one else's has). Cable coming out of the bottom, precisely to frustrate anyone trying to pull the plug out with it? Devious! And this isn't even exhaustive.

There's probabaly some darkly traumatic story behind the committee that designed it, which clearly overdosed on bleak creativity to out-top each other imagining _aaaaall_ the clever ways folk could conspire to fry themselves with electrickery.

<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEfP1OKKz_Q> is a little over the top, but I do feel that BS 1363 is sometimes underexploited as a source of Joy.

(Hmm: this marking isn't going to do itself...)

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Sep 17Liked by Helen Lewis

Re endurance events, there's an entertaining paper ‘Extreme events reveal an alimentary limit on sustained maximal human energy expenditure’ <https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aaw0341>. It's about apparent limits on how much useful, expendable, energy the alimentary canal is able to extract from food.

For short periods (and an ultramarathon is the sprintiest type of activity they consider) it seems possible to expend much more than your resting output (obviously). But as the event gets longer, they detect an upper limit on what the human body can process. If I'm understanding them correctly (and I an not a biologist), there seems a fairly hard limit of 2.5 times the base metabolic rate. You can eat more calories than that, but you can't turn them into useful work over a long race. This partly meshes with the ‘it's an eating race’ remark.

And _the_ most hardcore, butch, endurance sport they studied? (Figs 1b and 3a are both of them truly lovely graphs) Pregnancy. Which seems to nestle just under the limit of what's humanly possible.

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> Actually, she might be the world’s best ultrarunner, full stop; at extreme distances, the sex difference in performance narrows or disappears. Jonathan says that beyond 50km, “it’s an eating race”

I really wish we could dispense with this nonsense. It's just not true. Perhaps this quickest way to see this about Dauwalter is to note that in this year's UTMB she finished 25th in 23:29 compared to Walmsley's 19:38. If we want to look at more data points, perhaps the fairest thing to compare is the world records at longer distances (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultramarathon#IAU_World_Record_performances) male athletes dominate by similar performance gaps at all distances - similar to marathon and shorter distances. (I tweeted a graph of these ratios a while back, so it's probably out of date, but the story is still the same: https://twitter.com/SmoLurks/status/1540342833797890048 )

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