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The Whippet #146: Keep disguises out of sight

McKinley Valentine — 6 min read

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If you're not here because you read that thread about naked mole-rats, then you might like the following thread about naked mole-rats:

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying Dracula Daily, the newsletter that sends you Bram Stoker's Dracula in real time (it's written in letters and diary entries). It only started May 3, so it's not too late to catch-up.

It's hard to read it completely seriously though, because 'Dracula' is so engrained as a term meaning 'vampire'. It's really hard to remember that, for contemporary audiences, it was just the guy's name. (Vlad Dracula wasn't a well-known historical figure in England at the time).

In the May 3 entry, Jonathan Harker reads a letter ending:

I hope you will enjoy your stay in my beautiful land.

Your friend,

and I mean – come on mate. Be a bit subtle.

Also, Jonathan is incredibly willing to give circumstances the benefit of the doubt. At one point he says (I'm paraphrasing):

in a bit of a weird mood tonight, not sure why – could be the old-fashioned surroundings, could be the woman crying and begging me not to go out because all the evil things in the world will have full sway, who's to say


Later, a wild coachman with glowing red eyes takes him through a countryside where ghostly blue flames appear, and they encounter a pack of terrifying wolves, who the coachman appears to be able to control without speaking.


Was this a customary incident in the life of a solicitor's clerk sent out to explain the purchase of a London estate to a foreigner?

I mean it seems strange but maybe this is just what being a lawyer is like? He's only recently been made a lawyer, so it could totally be a normal lawyer thing.

[I realise at this point that I would 100% read a book that diverted from canon here and became a legal drama in which Jonathan stays on to handle Dracula's complicated legal matters.]

Dr. George Merryweather's Tempest Prognosticator

Designed in 1850, the Tempest Prognosticator predicts storms via 12 leeches in 12 bottles.

tempest prognosticator by George Merryweather
(this is a replica, the original was lost)

Leeches can detect approaching rain by pressure changes: when they do, they will try to climb out of the water to feed – in this case, out of their bottle and into the metal tube, dislodging a piece of whalebone, which causes a hammer to strike the central bell.

I took it into my head to surround myself with a jury of philosophical councilors, which was composed of twelve leeches, each placed in a separate pint bottle of white glass.
After having arranged this mouse trap contrivance, into each bottle was poured rain water, to the height of an inch and a half; and a leech placed in every bottle, which was to be its future residence. [Source]

The more the bell rings, the more likely it is that a storm is approaching.

The bottles were made of transparent glass and placed in a circle,
"in order that the leeches might see one another, and not endure the affliction of solitary confinement." 😭

It probably did work at least better than random chance. It was cast aside in favour of the storm glass, which does not work at all but also does not require regular feeding.


Books that have imprinted on my psyche

If you try to do the Myer-Briggs test on me, it just returns the ISBN for the Usborne Detective's Handbook:

Detective's office full of clever traps to catch crooks, from Usborne Detective's Handbook
I don't think criminals break into PI offices as much as Usborne thinks they do.

I loved and love every part of this: the itemisation, the logical justification for every thing, how every possession has a purpose, the clear labelling. I want a life that makes as much sense as this guy's.

Also I want to sit on a park bench reading a newspaper with two eyeholes cut out of it.

More images from the book at Comics Cube, if anyone else wants to go on a nostalgia trip.

"When you were partying, I studied Usborne's Detective Handbooj"
I know not all my readers are meme-aware, and you shouldn't have to be, so I will link you to the Know Your Meme page. But you're not missing much.

Please tell me what books from childhood have imprinted on your psyche!

How large would a bucket of water have to be to put out the sun?

The answer, according to the dead-dovely named Science Questions with Surprising Answers, is:

No amount of water thrown on the sun would be enough to put it out. Throwing water on the sun would only make it burn brighter.

(sorry sorry I said you shouldn't have to know any memes, here, dead dove)

The article does a perfect job of explaining why, but I'll try and tl;dr it.

The sun is not a giant campfire. In a normal fire, carbon molecules bond with oxygen molecules, forming new molecules (e.g. carbon di-oxide) and releasing heat energy.

The sun is doing something completely different – nuclear fusion. Basically, huge amounts of pressure squashing the atoms together until they fuse (until the nucleuses fuse) and releasing energy.

Simply put, a star is so massive that it gravitationally crushes itself to the point that its atoms fuse together.

If you add more mass – in the form of a bucket of water the size of Jupiter – you would just be increasing the mass of the sun, and therefore increasing its gravitational pull, making it crush itself even more, fuse together more, and burn hotter and brighter.

If that doesn't make sense, seriously, just read the article – it's a plain-language explanation and we're really falling into Bertrand Russell's maxim here with my attempt to summarise it:

"A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand."

weird medieval guys

just to save you some time: QUECK is not an accepted wordle entry, i tried

from weird medieval guys on twitter

also I saw a post from them 10 days ago saying "wow, 5000 followers, thanks everyone!" and today they have 138,000 so that's nice for them

Browser extensions for google calendar!

1. G-Calize: custom shading for the days of your choice

I've made Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays blue, because I'm currently contracting at a government agency on those days. 

Chrome link to G-Calize, but these will all be on Firefox as well

2. Tags: Add highlighted tags to calendar events

Anything you put before a colon creates a tag in the colour you've chosen for the event. So in this case, Art: Voorstelling is creating the 'Art' tag.

Calendar Tags (chrome link)

3. Event Merge – if you share calendars

If you share a calendar with someone, and you're both attending the same event, both events will appear on the calendar, all smooshed up and unreadable. Event Merge makes them appear as a single event with both/all of your calendar colours on it.

I'm just using their own marketing images for these, it explains it clearly.

Event Merge (chrome link)

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