Running Commentary 2/22/21
4 min read

Running Commentary 2/22/21

Marshmallow bags too big, WandaVision (Episode 7), BattleBots, Great-crested Grebe


I was talking with someone this past week and we both agreed that marshmallows are sold in too big of bags. If you’re roasting them at a bonfire, or making s’mores, you’re not going to make it through a whole bag. Some quick math:

A standard bag of leading brand marshmallows is 10 oz., or about 283.5g. The serving size on the bag is 4 marshmallows, or 32 g. For once, the serving suggestion seems about correct; assuming you’re not making s’mores, you’re just roasting marshmallows on their own, 4 per person seems like plenty. So a serving is 32 g, the bag is 283.5 g, so 283.5/32=8.859 or about enough for 9 people. And that’s not the party-sized bag, that’s standard. So if you have a gathering of, say, six people to roast marshmallows, and all of them eat all four of their recommended allotment of marshmallows, you’re going to have a third of the bag leftover, and you’ll forget about them in the cupboard and they’ll go all hard and weird.

The only thing I can think of that uses a whole bag of marshmallows all at once is rice crispy treats, and that seems like a weird thing to calibrate the size of a bag to.


I had a piece in Ordinary Times this past Saturday. It’s about birding: the history of birding, the present state of birding, and my experiences going birding in Lower Michigan. Check it out here.


Episode Seven of WandaVision released Friday, and it appears we have our villain. SPOILERS

Photo from WandaVision Twitter
  • There wasn’t really a lot to this episode, story-wise, outside of set-up elements. We find out about Harkness, and we see Vision and Darcy team up, and we see Monica Rambeau get her powers. There was no sitcom plot, even by the standard of the naturalistic modern sitcoms the episode is spoofing.
  • A lot of people called that Agnes was Agatha Harkness. In the comics, from what I can tell from my research, Harkness is not a villain, but she does seem to be in this show.
  • I think that S.W.O.R.D. lost the feed because the show has advanced through time to the point that broadcasts are digital rather than analog. They should go see if they can find one of those converter boxes.


The tournament has kicked off with half of the first-round fights. My bracket is still holding up pretty well; I had Beta beating Ribbot, and Malice beating Gigabyte, but in the latter case, I had the winner losing their next match, which I stand by. In the former case, I was assuming Beta wouldn’t throw together some really weird, bad armor. The real trouble’s going to come in the next round, since I had Beta beating Uppercut (similarly to how Hydra did, by being a low pyramid) but I don’t think Ribbot will. But we have the next half of the first round before that becomes an issue.

Also, I will reiterate that the gap outside the Box needs to be addressed before next season.


Not a lot to say other than I got the wings and, while they look really cool in screenshots, they block your view pretty bad when you’re actually playing the game, so I don’t think I’ll be using them much.

Bird of the Week

Today we have another bird from elsewhere. The Great-Crested Grebe is found in throughout Europe and Asia as well as in parts of Africa and Australia. Their British population was severely diminished by the use of their feathered pelts as an alternative to fur scarves, though this practice has since been banned and their numbers in the British Isles have recovered.

Grebes are generally similar to loons, although there have been some recent studies that suggest that they’re more closely related to flamingoes than anything. Grebes are much more strictly aquatic than ducks; they do not fly much (some species can’t fly at all, though the Great-Crested ones can), and they have great difficulty walking, as their feet are set back toward their tails. They are, however, excellent swimmers. Great-Crested Grebes are famous for their courtship displays, in which they face each other and shake their heads.

The Great-Crested Grebe’s genus, Podiceps, as well as the grebe family Podicepididae have names deriving from the Latin words for “vent-footed”, where “vent” is a euphemism for “cloaca”, a reference to their legs being at the very back of their bodies.

How We Figured Out the Size of Stars | Christopher M. Graney, Nautilus

A look at the conflict between geocentricists and heliocentricists back in the day. If the earth is moving, shouldn’t the stars be getting brighter and dimmer as they get further and closer? They’d have to be absolutely enormous for that not to happen. Checkmate, Copernicus!

Totaled | Nathan Alling Long, Necessary Fiction

[FICTION] A dark, surreal tale of a visit from a victim of an auto collision

The Thieves Who Steal Sunken Warships, Right Down to the Bolts | Kathryn Miles, Outside Online

Coverage of illegal salvage of WWII-era shipwrecks in the former Pacific Theater.

The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete. Here’s What’s Next | James Somers, The Atlantic

For much of the history of science, the finished result of a scientist’s research was a text description of their findings and conclusions. In this piece, James Somers contends that the computer age has enabled a better way to communicate these things. He profiles two new forms the scientific paper might take: Stephen Wolfram’s Notebook and Fernando Pérez’s IPython.