Aug. 25, 2021

Episode 19 - The one with Agony Aunts, Electric Cars and Friend-zoned and sustained

This week we look at the inefficiencies of petrol cars and search nature for something as equally un-parsimonious with its fuel. We shove Frère Jacques through our anagram poetry section that we call My Taragon Pea. Whilst Barry suggested Electric cars, Sam proffered Friend-zoned and sustained where we look at the hapless characters stuck  literally forever in the friend zone. We have another new section where we look at what's happening down on the farm but literally the last section looks at the original agony aunt whose advice was dispensed for a thousand years. Take that Deirdre. 


Episode 19

Hello, and welcome back to Frenzied and Sustained. I am still transmitting to the diaspora from the Fifth Republic in France and that is and will continue to be for a while yet, the reason behind the extended hiatus. I will try and get out episodes when I can.

But We do have a sensational podcast for you this week, our Brainy lecture, suggested by Barry, has our first look at electric cars and wonders if anything in nature is as inefficient as a petrol powered car.

In keeping with my environment we are going to subject Frère Jacques to the Anagram Poetry section that for some reason you refer to as A Greyer Tampon.

In A Sauce A Sauce my Kingdom for a Sauce - I bring you down to Gascony with a luxurious yet simple fois gras sauce.

Avid listener and literary sensation in his own right, Sam has suggested a one off section that he named “friend zoned and Sustained”. In fact that is all Sam did, he left me the tidying up and, well actually writing the section. Accordingly, we are going to be delving into literature to winkle out the hapless characters who must live out eternity in the literal friend zone.

In another new section we look at what is happening down on the farm, in particular what has John Deere been acquiring.

In Literally the Last Section we delve into the murky world of Agony Aunts and establish the the first was by far the best.

It is going to be a hot night in Waxahachie, a cold one in Hobart and in Hough Ohio, epicentre of this podcast’s fan base it is simply perfect. 

So let’s get things moving with a

Brainy Lecture

Electric cars

I am sure that many of you will recall the science experiments where teams will build a car that can go the furthest on a gallon of petrol. Their motorised baby prams with their skinny wheels would limp along for a hundred miles. Now one gallon of petrol contains 33.7 kilowatt hours of energy. In return for 33.7kilowatt hours of energy Elon Musk’s Tesla Model S long range will travel 135 miles, as well as getting to 60 miles an hour faster than I can say “0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds”, can carry at least five people, along with their waft of environmental superiority in  air-conditioned luxury. 

This extraordinary comparison does raise some interesting points. Petrol is staggeringly energy dense, not just by volume but also by weight.  Also, clearly, a Tesla must be staggeringly more efficient than a petrol powered equivalent car. After all, we know that it can travel over four hundred miles on the energy ration of 3 gallons of petrol.

The first aspect to consider is that electric motors are so much more efficient than internal combustion engine cars. The internal combustion engine has nearly 2000 moving parts, our Tesla above has 20. The very best efficiency petrol engine may claim to be 35% efficient. So for every £100 of petrol you buy £65 is lost in heat and noise. If only that were true. When an internal combustion engine rotates it is moving pistons up and down and as they move up they are compressing the combustion mixture, they are compressing springs on the valves, they are turning cranks, pumps, gears and differentials. Rockers are rocking and tappets are tapping. Now all that mayhem happens whether you are reversing into a parking space or evading the police in your Bronco down 101. Most of your losses stay the same regardless of the power output, so anything less than maximum power starts to reduce your efficiency even further. Frankly, in normal driving you will be lucky to get 17% value from your energy. 

Surely nothing in nature could survive if it was as inefficient as a Ford Bronco. Well, yes and no. The panda is a bear that went all vegan and only eats bamboo. Unfortunately the bamboo neglected to upgrade its digestive system when it went from Omnivore to exclusively salad bothering. It too only derives 17% of the total energy from the bamboo.  And yet that is all they eat. So the Giant Pandas eat bamboo for 14 hours every day, that is 12.5Kg of bamboo and yet their gut does not have the microbes that have the faintest idea of how to break it down. You see, if we look at the panda gut we can get a clue what has happened. Four  million years ago the giant pandas’ T1R1 gene mutated  and that caused them to lose the ability to taste umami, the delicious flavour of pepperoni pizza. Thereafter they lost their taste for meat totally and went full on Linda McCartney. Trouble is, the gut fauna never got the memo. But for heaven’s sake, get some variety. So every waking moment in a panda’s humdrum life is spent eating the floral table arrangement. No wonder they do not have the time for sex. Oh, don’t even get me started on that, pandas have decided to dine alone on their amuse bouche so they lead a solitary existence, then suddenly, one day a year they have a gap in their culinary schedule and decide a little slap and tickle might be in order. If they do not happen across a willing male on that one day, they just give up for the year and get back to annoying the crudités. If a miracle does happen in Love Jungle and she does have a baby, the little might is a 900th of the six of the mother. That is the equivalent of a human baby weighing 3.5 grams or 0.0078lbs. Oh, and it is blind and needs feeding every two hours and will not leave home for three years. SO it is hardly a shocker to learn that there are only around 1000 giant pandas left in the wild. I could get behind the save the panda campaign if I felt that the pandas were meeting us halfway. We have zookeepers dressing up as cute pandas to try and get the panda in the mood. I am simply baffled as to what other employment you would be qualified to conduct when all your prior experience in the job market has been panda fluffer.

So, teslas are really efficient and they are efficient in all use cases. Sure, in winter you have to heat up the cabin whilst the petrol cars just siphon off a little heat from the motor but with so few moving parts and no compression and springs and cams and no gearbox. Yes. Electric cars normally do not need a gearbox. They can produce maximum torque at zero revs so they cannot stall and do not need a clutch to help the vehicle start moving. A gearbox is a complete bag of pain, gears meshing constantly, bearings, synchromeshes, torque converters all intent on turning money into heat. Now the Porche Taycan decided to use a gearbox as otherwise the motor would fly apart at the highest revs necessary. Elon Musk decided to solve the engineering problem by winding the motor at extraordinary tension so that the coils remain in position at maximum speeds. So whilst an internal combustion engine can rev to say 6000rpm, the Plaid motor will spin at 20 000 rpm. The official range of the Porche Taycan is 200 miles and the Model S Plaid is 368 miles.

Tesla seems to have its superchargers everywhere. Given that you can now add 100 miles of range in just 7 minutes it seems that range anxiety is disappearing as fast as a Taycan in a Tesla’s rear window.

And battery technology is getting better and better. The next doubling of energy density will be here in next to no time. Teslas no longer even have scheduled maintenance so the economics are all moving the wrong way for petrol cars.

What’s happening down on the farm?

Frenzied and Sustained’s favourite tractor manufacturer, John Deere bought  autonomous tractor start-up Bear Flag Robotics, based in Silicon Valley for $250 million.

Clearly John Deere do not want to be left out on the big shift to autonomous vehicles and this acquisition will provide a short term focus of retrofitting the autonomous tech onto existing machines. The intention is to get these solutions into the muddy hands of their user base as soon as possible to help alleviate the world labour shortages.

JD had previously purchased Blue River. They had created and deployed real-time autonomous agricultural robots. Their "see and spray" robotics platform uses computer vision to recognise plants, and sprays herbicide on weeds and fertiliser on crops with

similar precision to inkjet printers. This precise targeting ultimately reduce chemical usage by more than 90%, resulting in cost savings to the farmer and fewer harmful chemicals in our soil. In cotton, Blue River' robots can radically reduce the amount of herbicide needed to defeat resistant weeds

while improving yields. With lettuce, Blue River's robots determine how to best allocate resources to grow lettuce and autonomously thins the crop to maximize yield.

Anagram poetry

Frere Jacques Anagram

Queers jeer quaff jar rec sec

Our ovum revs odd mezzos

Neon Maleness Zits

Not semen laziness

Dinnggd gonad

Dinnggd gonad

(I had to spell dinnggd DINNGGD, I had got to the last line before realising that there are not any English (or French, I tried that) anagrams for ding dang dong and you know I hate throwing unused anagrams out so sue me).

A Sauce a sauce my kingdom for a sauce

We are going to do a really simple and delicious Fois Gras sauce.

Now Fois Gras literally translates as liver fat and I know some people who eat chickens, turkeys, pigs and cows do not approve of Fois Gras so as an alternative just stand outside Greggs Bakery with a laparoscope and as politely for 100g of liver.

All you will need this week is 

100g Fois Gras de Canard 

50ml white wine (any)

60ml double cream

A pinch of chilli powder, being in Basque Country of course I will be using piment d’espelette.

In a small pan add the white wine and boil for a couple of minutes to evaporate the alcohol (no extractor fans please, we love the smell of evaporating wine at Frenzied and Sustained)

Add the cream and heat gently until the volume has reduced by around 25% and more importantly the sauce is a napping consistency, it will coat the back of a spoon and will stay in place when you wipe your finger across the spoon.

Now the last thing that you want is our sauce to split so the safest way to proceed is to cut the foil gras into small pieces and take the pan off the heat. Slowly add the foil gras whilst whisking . Add a little pigment d’espelete to taste. Of course you do not have to, it is your sauce, I love the balance of the rich luxury of the sauce to be balanced by the surprise hit of heat. 

You could serve the sauce as it is, but we are not animals so we will pass it through a sieve and I may even hit it with my immersion blender to give a lighter finish.

Serve with fresh pasta, any sea food, on rice or chicken. 

Now for a special one off section suggested by Sam

Friendzoned and sustained

Let’s see if we can make it to a top ten

A non-mover at number 10 is  Viktor Krum from Harry Potter and the Broom With a View: Hermione goes with Viktor to the dance, but does she really like him or is she trying to make Ron/Harry jealous.  Hermy-own-ninny certainly succeeded in making the ginger man-baby jealous.

We have a new entry for Laurie, the  Little Women sex pest at number 9. After  Laurie is thoroughly rejected by his best friend and childhood love Jo March, he runs away to Europe. There, he finds and marries consolation prize Amy, Jo’s little sister. We’ve always been slightly disturbed by Laurie’s decision to keep it all in the family. I hope that Amy is not a listener to this podcast as I suspect that she does not know that she was the runner up

Another new entry at 8 for Pip from Great Expectations. Pip adored Estella all his life and she could not even have the decency to lead him on a bit. She simply had not the slightest reciprocity of feelings and this was perhaps the most brutal friend zoning in the while canon of English literature. 

The second Harry Potter entry is up three places to number 7 where shampoo dodger  Professor Snape spent his entire life in love with Harry's mom Lilly, only to have her end up marrying his worst enemy. And even after she died, Snape was still so devoted that he dedicated his life to protecting her son. Well protecting and and torturing.

Ross Gellar almost made it to number 6 in Friends but he was disqualified by ultimately escaping the friend zone so in his place we have Gunther (Perk?) who loved Rachel Green for 10 series.

Number 5 is not without a sense of tragedy where the luckless Quasimodo has to endure being an orphan, having a dick for an adopted father and living in a lonely bell tower, oh and is unanimously hated by all of Paris for no reason. He risks his life for beautiful Esmerelda only to be friendzoned in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Honestly, Esmerelda comes out of this looking rather shallow.

Literally climbing up the sides of number 4 King Kong would do anything for beautiful, tiny Ann Darrow, including sacrificing his own life. Unfortunately for this giant primate, Ann doesn't do monkeys.

At number 3 we look into the excellent 2011 film, Crazy Stupid Love, Robbie loves Jessica... Jessica loves his father... Both do NOT love the friendzone they find themselves in. 

At number 2 we have Xander Harris who was occasionally obsessed with  Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Xander longed for Buffy except when shifted his affections to Miss French the beautiful substitute biology teacher. As Buffy suspected Miss French was actually the She Mantis, a giant insect that disguised itself as a beautiful woman to seduce, mate with and eventually eat male virgins. Buffy saved Xander before he could be raped and decapitated, and his attraction was returned to her. Fun fact, in two episodes Xander was actually played by Nicholas Brendon’s twin brother.

And at number 1 we have Don Pedro in Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing. At the masked ball he proposes marriage to Beatrice but she jokingly refuses him, not even taking his proposal seriously. This, I suspect was because he is truly in love with Beatrice. Brutal.


 Frenzied and Sustained is a cash intensive operation so to offset our expenditure I will read this advert.

Ladies, want longer lashes, move to Afghanistan and read a book in a built up area

New longer lashes by Ayatollah, because she wouldn’t listen and I a told her

Literally the Last Section

Agony Aunts

When I started my research into agony aunts all the search results came up with the same stories of the type “Dear Deidre, there is a girl at work who always smiles at me when she uses the photocopier, should `I send her a picture of my penis”. Of course you should. In fact why stop there, why not commission an artist and have its likeness captured in oils in the style of the old Dutch masters. The sooner you sex pest get yourself on the register the better.

These fake stories together with their replies from ghost writers did not interest me. Instead I went back to the original and the best. It turns out this agony aunt was in business for one thousand years, which is an extraordinary feat when you consider that she dispensed her advice in riddles. I am, of course, talking about the Oracle at Delphi.  Over five hundred of her responses still exist. Here sense of irony is also perfectly preserved. For example one of her aphorisms carved in the temple is “nothing in excess”, this was carved in the side of a massive temple complex with a full complement of priests, gold tripods and divine trances.  Excess avoided.

According to legend, a huge serpent, named Python, guarded the spot before it was slain by the infant god Apollo. When Apollo’s arrows pierced the serpent, its body fell into a fissure and great fumes arose from the crevice as its carcass rotted. All those who stood over the gaping fissure fell into sudden, often violent, trances. In this state, it was believed that Apollo would possess the person and fill them with divine presence.

These peculiar occurrences attracted Apollo-worshipping settlers during the Mycenaean era, and slowly but surely the primitive sanctuary grew into a shrine, and then, by 7th century BCE, a temple. It would come to house a single person, chosen to serve as the bridge between this world and the next. Named after the fabled serpent, this chosen seer was named the Pythia – the oracle.

Unlike today’s agony aunts choosing the Pythia was a major undertaking, after all, communicating with a god was part of the job description. So the chosen one had to be a pure, chaste and honest young virgin. However, guess what happens when you put a beautiful young virgin in a male dominated workplace. The men would, you guessed it, send penis based oil paintings to the young girls and often raped and violated them.  They were literally raping the Pythia who is being followed on Twitter by god. That makes her literally a PILF, as absolutely no one has ever called her.So the ancient Greeks could not have nice things and the young virgins were replaced by older women of  50 and upwards. They would still dress in the virginal garments of old, but frankly they were fooling no one.

The oracle was an immediate media sensation and people flocked to speak with her. Those who requested an audience with the oracle were known as ‘consultants’. When you arrived at Delphi you would get a thorough grilling from the priests, who would determine the genuine cases and instruct them the correct way to frame your questions.

Those who were approved then had to undergo a variety of traditions, such as carrying laurel wreaths to the temple. It was also encouraged for consultants to provide a monetary donation as well as an animal to be sacrificed. Once the animal had been sacrificed, its guts would be studied. If the signs were seen as unfavourable, the consultant could be sent home. Finally, the consultant was allowed to approach the Pythia and ask his question. In some accounts, it seems the oracles gave the answers, but others report the Pythia would utter incomprehensible words that the priests would ‘translate’ into verse. Once he received his answer, the consultant would journey home to act upon the advice of the oracle.

When the Persians were invading Greece, she told the Athenians to put their trust in “a wooden wall”. Themistocles, the Athenian leader, realised that this meant “build lots of ships”. He acted on the advice, and his navy routed the Persians at Salamis in 480BC. But her refusal to give a straight answer could lead to disaster. In the sixth century BC King Croesus of Lydia was told that if he made war on the Persians he would “destroy a mighty empire”. That empire turned out to be his own.

Soon, no major decision was made before consulting the oracle of Delphi. It wasn’t just Greek people, but also foreign dignitaries, leaders and kings who travelled to Delphi for a chance to ask the oracle a question. Now, this involved huge queues so the temple implemented a Fast Pass system so those who could afford it would pay great sums of money to avoid the  long lines of pilgrims and commoners. Using these donations, the temple grew in size and prominence. Quickly, Delphi seemed to be fulfilling its own prophecy of being the centre of the world, and attracted visitors for the Pythian Games, a precursor of the Olympic Games. The Russians were naturally banned as they were found to be taking performance enhancing snake venom.

In 594 BC, Solon, the Athenian lawgiver in framing his famous constitutional reforms for Athens, sought the advice of the oracle who told him:

Seat yourself now amidships, for you are the pilot of Athens. Grasp the helm fast in your hands; you have many allies in your city.

As a result, Solon refused the opportunity to become a revolutionary tyrant, and created a constitution for which he, and Athens, were justly honoured. Through trial by jury, a graduated tax system and the forgiveness of debts he prevented a growing gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots". But he refused to accept the confiscations of the property of the rich, so creating an Athenian middle class. He secured an Oath from the Athenian Council of Magistrates that if they violated these laws they would dedicate a gold statue to the Oracle of Delphi of equal weight to themselves. This not only ensured great compliance, it also heralded the world’s most successful weight loss campaign.

In 359 BC, Philip II of Macedon consulted the Oracle and was told:

With silver spears you may conquer the world

The king then sought to control the silver mines in the neighbouring Thracian and Illyrian kingdom, and using them to bribe his way to early victories, playing one Greek state off against the others, and isolating his enemies by bribes to potential allies.

Philip also had a highly spirited black colt that no one could ride. The Oracle of Delphi stated whoever could ride this horse would conquer the world, but despite many attempts neither Philip nor any of his generals could mount the horse. His son, Alexander succeeded as he realised that the horse was afraid of his own shadow. Philip gave the horse Bucephalus to Alexander. Alexander became Alexander the Great and he took the steed on his conquest of Asia.

In 336BC Alexander the Great himself visited the Delphic Oracle wishing to hear a prophecy that he would soon conquer the entire ancient world. To his surprise the oracle refused a direct comment and asked him to come later. Furious, Alexander dragged Pythia by the hair out of the chamber until she screamed "You are invincible, my son!" The moment he heard these words he dropped her, saying, "Now I have my answer”. 

But it is generally unwise to tangle with your agony aunt. The last recorded oracle was in 393 AD when by order of Emperor Theodosius I the temple was closed and never reopened. The Oracle declared all is ended. Within 5 years the Emperor was dead and 15 years later Alaric and the Visigoths captured Rome.

The utterances of the Oracle really would not be out of place in a modern day agony aunt column. Let’s have a top ten Delphic aphorisms

Hot new entry at number 10 - Associate with likeminded people

Surprising hit at number 9 - Gain possessions justly, like pretending to be an Oracle?

Up six places to number 8 for Look down on no one, says the woman who claims to have god on speed dial 

Kicking off the Patreon scheme at number 7 with - If you have, give

More irony at number 6 as the deity known for speaking advises Listen to all

Whilst keeping a straight face at number 5 Pythia, master of riddles advises Speak plainly

Clearly following her own advice at number 4 with Make use of expertise

Self preservation at number 3 where in return for a thousand pieces of silver and four sacrificed goats you come out with Find fault with no one 

On the one hand at number 2 we are enjoying Take sensible risks

But at number 1 we seem to break that rule with the advice to Control your wife

And that is the end of Literally the Last Section. It is also the end of this week’s podcast.

As I am still in France I am not sure the exact timing of the next Frenzied and Sustained podcast. However, whenever it appears it will be full of the usual fun and frivolity including what literary tsunami happened when the 17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes met 16th century French theologian John Calvin in a Dunkin Donuts in Queens and decided to write a daily cartoon about a young boy and his real or imaginary tiger that espoused Aristotelian philosophy that went on to sell over 45 million copies. We are going to be talking about Calvin and Hobbes. In the next Brainy Lecture we will be looking at self driving cars and a sauce a sauce my kingdom for a sauce is going to be a gloriously decadent caramelised port sauce.

Words cannot express how much I hate emojis