This week I’ve been reading
a corking article about US Air Force Pararescuemen (also known as PJs) who are the guys that Navy Seals call when they’re wounded and need help behind enemy lines. PJs are elite combat medics who can provide expert medical help and rescue in the most hostile environments.
The article is: The Savior Elite: Inside the Special Operations Force Tasked with Rescuing Navy SEALS They are the military’s “guardian angels.” They are trained paramedics, paratroopers, and combat divers. This is the story of one such airman, and the mission of a lifetime.
It tells the story of a civilian vessel hundreds of miles from the nearest port and hospital which had had an explosion that left several sailors with horrific burns and life-threatening injuries. The surgery that needed to be done in tight, fearsomely hot confines is compelling and just another of Esquires’s excellent long-form reads.
From the Esquire article:
The seven airmen rise. At the next command—“HOOK UP!”—they clip their parachutes’ red static lines to a steel cable running over their heads.
Fifteen hundred feet below, their target: the Tamar, a commercial shipping vessel two thirds into its voyage from Baltimore to Gibraltar. Earlier that morning, there had been an explosion onboard, some unknown ignition that had set fire to four sailors working inside the hull. In his distress message, the ship’s captain wrote that the men had been burned from head to toe. They were in the middle of the Atlantic; the nearest land—the Azores Islands—was over five hundred miles to the east. They were out of range of both U.S. and Portuguese Coast Guard helicopters as well as rescue boats. The men’s injuries were severe, requiring expert attention. The captain’s message was routed from Lisbon to Portsmouth, then to Boston, and on to the airmen in Long Island. Within hours of the explosion, two of the sailors died. The two other men—charred, skin flayed—wait now without pain medicine.
(image taken from the Esquire article)
I also read an excellent primer to Nassim Taleb’s idea of Antifragility (Nassim Taleb: A Definition of Antifragile and its Implications). The main idea is this: the opposite of fragility is not ‘robust’ or ‘resilient’; its opposite is actually ‘anti-fragility’. Something ‘fragile’ breaks under stress and volatility. Something that is ‘anti-fragile’ becomes stronger under stress eg. the mythical Hydra, which when one head was cut off, two would grow back in its place.
From Taleb (and quoted from the Farnam Street blog):
Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better. This property is behind everything that has changed with time: evolution, culture, ideas, revolutions, political systems, technological innovation, cultural and economic success, corporate survival, good recipes (say, chicken soup or steak tartare with a drop of cognac), the rise of cities, cultures, legal systems, equatorial forests, bacterial resistance … even our own existence as a species on this planet.
Here is the ‘triad’ of antifragility (taken from Farnam Street blog and in turn taken from Taleb’s book):
Eating more veg and less meat
I’m trying to eat more veg and less meat and this is a cracking video from the NYT Cooking channel on how to do so:
Make your own finger-licking Banh Mi
I had a hankering for Banh Mi yesterday so I had to make it. Never done it before. YouTube offered this corker from one of my favourite cooking channels, (Sam the Cooking Guy):
Instead of pork, I used a rotisserie chicken from my local supermarket, and shredded it into rough pieces. I used a soft giraffe baguette, and lots of coriander, lime juice, fish sauce, white vinegar, Kewpie mayo, and siracha. Definitely try this!
Movie this week
Angelique wanted to watch Booksmart. I was a bit skeptical at first but it was really good. (Think Superbad updated for the 2020s. (Can you believe Superbad was released in 2007?!))
Booksmart is whip-smart funny, warm, kind-hearted, and has two great performances from the two leads, (Beanie Feldstein as Molly Davidson and Kaitlyn Dever as Amy Antsler). Check it out on Amazon Prime Video.
Quote for the week
“If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it.”
Have a great week ahead!