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The Whippet #61: New year, new [Your Name Here]

McKinley Valentine — 6 min read

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Not that there was anything wrong with the old .

I'm not super into New Year's Eve, lot of pressure and the bars and gardens are all full and horrible, but I love New Year's Day.

A thing that's nice is: clean your room/house on New Year's Eve so you can wake up to a fresh clean house on New Year's Day. And have the ingredients for whatever your perfect fancy breakfast is, fruit platter or avocadoes or fry-up.

(Side note: Christmas always feels like it should be wintry, southern hemisphere summer Christmas feels wrong. All the fairy lights and fur and pine trees don't quite work. But New Year's should be in summertime. New Year's Day is meant to feel energetic and unburdened, which is impossible when it's the middle of hibernation time and you have to put on a million different layers and boots just to walk to the end of the street.)

This issue is going to be a bit janky and short because I have the flu and can't think properly (related: flu/colds in the summer also feel weird and not correct).

Why it's impossible for you to ruin the holidays

“Because you have made me upset on this Friday the thirteenth, it stands to reason that you have ruined the very concept of Friday the thirteenth, because Friday the thirteenth as an institution – qua Friday the thirteenth – depends upon my never having felt upset even once.”

“Ah, you’ve forever ruined Thursdays for me, Jeremy. Not merely this particular Thursday, but the very idea of Thursdays, and each and sundry Thursday forevermore shall be ruined as a result of today’s ruination.”

Read the rest of this piece by Daniel Mallory Ortberg (who writes an advice column, so is very familiar with people being accused of "ruining the holidays").

While you're here, read his amazing piece on getting top surgery. I related strongly to this part:

"The dominant story of my life as a woman had been, “I’ve never given a moment’s thought to my body, although I’m sure it’s quite nice; never been there myself, but I hear it’s lovely this time of year.”

The idea of caring $6,250 worth about the shape of my chest alone, not to mention the rest of it, seemed designed to elicit uncomfortable follow-up questions."

Reader trays

I mentioned the geniusest laziest neatness hack: put things on a tray. I cannot tell you how delighted I am to have got a few emails from people describing their things, and the trays they have put them on.

This tray comes from Robert Wringham, who wrote a book I absolutely loved and you should read but I very regrettably don't have the energy to do justice to right now. The en-trayed items would probably not be that scraggly-looking on their own, but I really like how neatly the tray lines up with the tile edge.

From a review of Escape Everything! : Escape from work. Escape from consumerism. Escape from despair:

"Why would you want to escape? Because on average we will each spend 87,000 hours at work. That’s more of our lives than many of us are prepared to give, especially in a job that we don’t particularly believe in, or that doesn’t seem socially useful. Our timetables are decided in advance, and we have limited freedom to travel and see the world. Being tied to one place, we seek our consolation in earning and spending, acquiring a houseful of trinkets. Those, in turn, keep us in place: we have to keep earning to pay the mortgage, and now we have all this stuff to move around.

This, says Wringham, is a trap. And the thing to do with a trap is to escape it, preferably with flair and panache, like Harry Houdini."

Flair and panache being important signifiers; this is such a joyful and non-dour book. You can have a minimalist lifestyle a maximalist aesthetic. I would particularly recommend this book to lefties who feel burdened with the amount of systemic changes that need to happen, and guilty about experiencing any personal happiness when so many people are currently unable to. Like if you've ever found yourself sighing and reminding yourself "there's no ethical consumption under capitalism". Another target audience: people who find Ayn Rand's approach to the personal kind of empowering and liberating, but her approach to societal issues loathesome and wrong-headed. It is possible to have one without the other! Third audience: any and all dandies.

Please keep sending me your trays, it fills me with life.

Joe Pesci comedy My Cousin Vinnie praised for most accurate portrayal of courtroom proceedings on film

"Director Jonathon Lynn has a law degree from Cambridge University, and lawyers have praised the accuracy of My Cousin Vinny's depiction of courtroom procedure and trial strategy, with one stating that "[t]he movie is close to reality even in its details. Part of why the film has such staying power among lawyers is because, unlike, say, A Few Good Men, everything that happens in the movie could happen—and often does happen—at trial". One legal textbook discusses the film in detail as an "entertaining [and] extremely helpful introduction to the art of presenting expert witnesses at trial for both beginning experts and litigators" and criminal defenders, law professors, and other lawyers use the film to demonstrate voir dire and cross examination."

Less than half of the text at

I have not watched My Cousin Vinny but I really want to now. Also, Joe Pesci is in Home Alone, so this is a Christmas movie by association.

Etymology of 'bugger'

"BUGGERY is named after Bulgaria. It originally meant ‘heresy’, and was particularly associated with a band of Bulgarian heretics in the late Middle Ages whose opposition to the Catholic Church saw them accused of all manner of sacrilegious practices."

from a Haggard Hawks twitter thread of slang that developed from place names. I also like
"An OSLO BREAKFAST is a meagre or hastily prepared meal. It was originally the name of a program of children’s school meals introduced in Norway in the 1920s."

by Anelien

Could you survive a visit to your local pub if you had to fight the thing it was named after?

Question via Frog Croakley on twitter (recommended follow).

I won't give my local because I don't want to give away my exact location, but the pub I visited most recently was the Spotted Mallard, and if I can't beat a duck in a fight, what am I good for? And if you know the pub I'm talking about, why not go to the next SciFight, comedy debates on sciencey topics.

Unsolicited Advice

Whiskey stones to make your tea drinkable without diluting it

Whiskey stones are cold frozen rocks. They're not actually great for whiskey. Whiskey is nicer slightly diuluted, and "whiskey and water" used to be a common bar order, but people are weird about it now so you have to give them ice so they can pretend they're not watering down their whiskey. So yeah, you probably just want to use regular icecubes for your whiskey. But for tea this is genius. Tip via Lifehacker. (PS put the dang whiskey stones in your whiskey if it makes you happy, who cares. I'm just against the whole "shore up your sense of being a grown-up by only drinking the most bitter and intense beverages." trend. It's juvenile.)

My second piece of advice is: if you come into some money, why not spend it on hiring a body double of yourself? Or maybe that's a good gift for someone else. I don't exactly know what the benefit would be but at least the money would be going to an actor instead of a manufacturer of plastic nonsense. (Mainly I watched the most recent version of Good Place writer Demi Adejuyigbe's September... thing... and was inspired.)

If you want solicited advice, send questions to or just reply to this email.

This is the bit where I normally ask you to support The Whippet but this is such a janky issue! Maybe you don't want to forward it to your friends.

Patreon link because you never know.

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