Skip to content

The Whippet #157: Rat snakes, strong snakes, wine snakes, germ snakes

McKinley Valentine — 9 min read

On this page

Good morning!

Melbourne, where I live, is braced for its 'biggest rain event of the year' tomorrow, which makes it sound like a sale. I saw a headline saying "Eastern states to be hit by rain ban" which I found very funny – we often have fire bans during bushfire weather, and I imagined some bureaucrat responding to a flood risk with "can we not just introduce a fine for raining too much?" which is a very Australian approach to problem-solving.

Anyway, it's a typo, it's a rain band, as in big stripe across the map. Disappointing.

'Articles' icon

Rat snakes confirmed dumbest snake

"Some snakes, such as rat snakes, have been known to consume themselves. One captive snake attempted to consume itself twice, dying in the second attempt. Another wild rat snake was found having swallowed about two-thirds of its body."

Vulcana the 19th Century Strongwoman

Born in 1874, a woman whose Wikipedia page includes the headings Authenticated feats of strength and Authenticated feats of heroism:

  • At the age of thirteen, stopped a runaway horse in Bristol.
  • Freed a wagon stuck in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London in October 1901 by lifting it before astonished witnesses.
  • Rescued two children from drowning in the River Usk in July 1901, for which she received an award in gratitude.
  • On 4 June 1921 the Garrick Theatre in Edinburgh caught fire on an evening of the Society Athletes' performance. Vulcana risked her life to save another act's horses, and came away with serious burns on her head. For this she won commendations and an award.
  • In 1910, Vulcana was the first to alert the police of the disappearance of her friend, Cora Crippen, who performed as Belle Ellmore, ultimately leading to the investigation, prosecution and execution of Cora's husband, Dr. Hawley Crippen.

    (This is a famous murder case in its own right – Crippen was one of the first murderers to be caught via new wireless communication tech, telegraphy. He had fled London after the murder and boarded a steamship to Canada. The Captain recognised him and had a message sent back to England: "Have strong suspicions that Crippen London cellar murderer and accomplice are among saloon passengers. Mustache taken off growing beard."

    The investigator in the case, Walter Dew, boarded a faster ship and arrived in Canada before Crippen's ship. From Wikipedia:
    Dew removed his cap and said, "Good morning, Dr. Crippen. Do you know me? I'm Chief Inspector Dew from Scotland Yard." After a pause, Crippen replied, "Thank God it's over. The suspense has been too great. I couldn't stand it any longer." He then held out his wrists for the handcuffs.)

More Vulcana photos and stories here. Her husband was a strongman called Atlas: literal power couple.


Probably the funniest Rube Goldberg machine I've seen?


This machine passes your wine across a table! Continuing on from my “Pass the Salt” and “Pass the Pepper” series. #chainreaction

♬ original sound - Joseph’s Machines

Full of surprises and escalations and non-sequiters, incredible physical comedy. I don't want to give any spoilers.

Pass the Wine

A relevant tweet:


Mushi: the pre-cursor to germ theory in Japan

The book being referred to is the Harikikigaki ("The Book of Needles"  – as in acupuncture – published in 1586 by an unknown author).

The timing aligns with similar theories being developed in Europe – in 1546, physician Girolamo Fracastoro:

proposed that epidemic diseases are caused by transferable tiny particles or 'spores' that could transmit infection by direct contact, indirect contact, or even without contact over long distances. In his writing, the 'spores' of diseases may refer to chemicals rather than to any living entities.

The Harikikigaki was in some ways nearer to the mark than Fracastoro, by describing them as living things. Knowing bacteria/viruses are alive is probably a more key piece of understanding than knowing they don't wear hats.

Fracastoro's theory wasn't widely accepted in Europe at that time though; people still mainly believed disease was caused by miasma, or bad air.

As an aside, if you like quiet, contemplative, beautiful, not-particularly-plot-driven anime in the vein of My Neighbour Totoro, you might like the anime series Mushi-shi. [Premise, no spoilers.] (Given I made that comparison, I should note that it would be too scary for little kids – it has some on-screen death and disease.)

More mushi from pages of the Harikikigaki at this link.

This description of the mushi Honoshu sounds like a panic disorder to me:

Hinoshu, found in the spleen, looks like a rock and remains dormant inside the body until the host visits a crowded sightseeing area, at which time Hinoshu causes dizziness by thrashing about and creating the sensation of rocks crashing against each other.

Unsolicited Advice

Join me in a mobility routine experiment over the next few weeks!

For my purposes, 'mobility routine' means the kind of stretches and movements you might do when you wake up – or if you've been sitting at a desk for hours – to make your body feel more alive and lively. They're not stretches trying to push you to the limit of your flexibility, and they shouldn't feel unpleasant or taxing. It's not meant to be a workout.

If you do one that feels good, it lifts your mood and energy levels. But sometimes they're a bad fit for your body and you just feel strained and awkward and heavy and incompetent and it puts you in a sour mood.

So I have scoured the internet (mostly reddit) for every post where someone recommended their favourite mobility routine, one they do every day, and collated the ones that I saw getting mentioned repeatedly:

Had to take this page down cause all those links made it (ironically) not mobile-friendly, and it's bad for your google search rankings to have non-mobile-friendly pages on your website

They are all follow-along videos between 4 and 20 minutes, listed in order from shortest to longest. The exception is the first one, which is a longer video teaching you a single whole-body stretch, and they reckon just doing that one stretch every day would see you far.

My plan is to do one every day (or realistically, a few a week), until I find the one I like best. I could, at that point, say "Hey friends, I found the best one! Here it is!" but it's going to be different for everyone so I think you should run the experiment yourself.

I haven't done them so can't make guarantees, but none of them should require serious strength, flexibility or cardiac fitness. And if it does require too much? Off the list! Bad routine! Move on to the next one!

A couple reasons I think this is a genius plan:

  1. Since there's 19 routines, and you're setting out to judge which is best, if one makes you feel incompetent, you're less likely to feel bad and like your body is ineffective, because it won't be "I failed at this routine", it'll be "this routine failed to be good enough, it's not getting shortlisted."
  2. It has the upsides of commitment without the downsides. It does help to say "I'm going to do this routine every day for a month"; commitments can give you determination, but what if you immediately find the routine to be unpleasant? Do you break your commitment? Do you try and power through? Powering through something unpleasant isn't a particularly enticing offer. And maybe you don't START because then you'll be put in the position of having to break a commitment or power through.
    But with this, if you find a routine unpleasant: don't worry! You won't have to do it ever again. But you won't be breaking your commitment, because you'll be trying the next routine.
  3. Similarly, if you're halfway through one of the routines and hating it, stoppppp. It's not gonna be a winner! And since you know you can stop, you don't have to dread starting. By definition, if it's unpleasant, you don't have to do it.
    (Of course, there are lots of habits in life which you shouldn't immediately give up on because they're unpleasant. But since the whole aim of this is to feel good, you'd be perfectly correct in giving up if it doesn't. You're not trying to train your willpower or grit, you're trying to find something pleasant + healthful.)
  4. It's flexible in the type of commitment you make. You could say "I'm going to try one every workday for a week" or "I'm going to work my way through each routine, however long it ends up taking" - so you might do 3 one week and only 1 the next, and it doesn't matter. Or "I'm going to try all of the routines that take less than 10 minutes [there's ten of them] because I don't care how good the 15 and 20-minute routines are, that is too long."
  5. One reason I've never done this with consistency is because I have ridiculous FOMO and analysis paralysis. How can I commit to a routine if I don't know it's the best one? Finding out which one is best, will, I think, make it much easier to consistently stick to that routine in future. Or maybe I'll like a few, and then I can have a bit of novelty, which also helps.

Full disclosure, I have actually tried "Morning Slow Hatha Yoga Flow with Melissa Krieger" (~15 minutes) and I really like it. It's only kind of yoga, it's more like a vaguely yogic warmup. It starts slow and very easy and then gets a bit more active so you end up energetic at the end, which is what you want for a morning routine.

I've made this whole thing into a separate article for easier future reference:

Mobility Routine Experiment
Trying 19 of the most recommended mobility routines on Reddit

ALSO, if you already have a mobility routine you like, please leave it in the comments!

I'll add it to the page of links and put an updated list in the next issue of The Whippet (and also try it out myself).

It's gotta be under 20 minutes and not too strenuous (no pushups, no burpees, no kettlebell swings. Nothing wrong with kettlebell swings but it's not the list we're making here).

Note on the list as it currently stands:
Unfortunately it's heavily white and male-dominated, probably as a result of getting the recommendations off Reddit, and because of the focus on 'mobility' rather than 'flexibility' – for whatever reason, mobility is more male-coded – and because of my requirement that it a) not be at a high skill level (women tend to be more technically skilled at this stuff) and b) have high production values (which cost $$$). Fitness Youtubers are not a random sample of the population; they are forced into branding niches that the audience will accept. I'm hoping that getting suggestions from a broader range of contributors will redress the imbalance. Again, please recommend me stuff.

Also, you'll notice some creators are there more than once. That doesn't mean I recommend them more, it just means they showed up separately as different recommendations. Don't feel like you have to try every routine by the same creator if you didn't like their first one; I certainly won't be.


Thanks for reading!

If you've been forwarded this email, you can sign up for free here.


Sign in or become a Whippet subscriber (free or paid) to add your thoughts.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.