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The Whippet #113: An invitation-only party that you need to crash

McKinley Valentine — 7 min read

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Hello, happy new year, though my god it feels like we’re already several months into it doesn’t it? I don’t think I’ve ever had the shininess of a new year wear off so quickly.

(By the way, if you have no idea why you’re receiving this, you probably signed up based on Future Crunch’s Information Diet recommendation in December.)

I’m a big new year resolutions, fresh start, fresh plan type person, but now whenever I think of listing things I’d like to get more consistent at, I think about comedian Jack Druce’s bit about starting a meditation habit:

“I’ve started meditating again. I used to have a joke, which was true, where I said: I’m so much happier since I started meditating, but I don’t know if the meditation is working because right when I started meditating I got hired to write jokes on a TV show. So I don’t know for sure if the happiness is coming from sitting alone in my cold bedroom or from getting everything I ever wanted.

I like the joke but I think it is symbolic of my attitude which is that things like meditation, self-compassion, or coming to terms with your irrelevance in the universe are just a backup plan for when my dreams aren’t coming true.”

Just flinch-makingly true for me.

(from his newsletter)

A piece of living shadow has broken through from the Void Dimension

By which I mean, look at this vantablack sea urchin!

“Like other echinoderms, sea urchins have 5-fold symmetry & move by means of hundreds of tiny, transparent, adhesive "tube feet". They work through hydraulic pressure, allowing them to pump water into and out of the tube feet.” — Massimo on Twitter

(PS I just learned the “vanta” in vantablack is an acronym — it’s paint made of Vertically Aligned NanoTube Arrays)

Newsletter recommendation: The Browser

There are a lot of “good links” round-up newsletters, but The Browser consistently has the most interesting and varied. It’s less light/funny and more “do you actually want to understand something with a bit of depth and context?” and I think you’d learn way more about the world from reading The Browser for a year than following the news cycle, which is pretty surface-level and prioritises clicks over nuance.

Normally when people say “get out of your filter bubble” they mean “listen to this alt-right guy we’ve given a platform to for some reason” whereas The Browser’s is actually a huge variety of sources you’d never find on your own.

Please note that I’ve been paid to mention them here! But everything I’m saying is entirely sincere — I’m a full-paying Browser subscriber myself.

Anyway, I have a discount code if you want to subscribe to them!

Put in WHIPPET20 for 20% off an annual subscription. I paid full price like a chump but you don’t have to!

The Browser <— here

Found poetry

(The full Beaufort Scale includes the speed of the wind and the normal name for it, “fresh breeze”, “strong gale”, etc. There’s also a sea version but it’s kinda boring, just descriptions of waves.)

How to escape a sinking ship (specifically, the Titanic)

I loved this piece — it’s a blow-by-blow account of the sinking of the Titanic, but told in the form of a practical explainer, eg:

Because the lurch is so mild, few of the passengers will initially suspect a serious problem. Of course, there is a serious problem. You’re six decks below the lifeboats, and seven tons of water are rushing into the lower holds every second. You need to act.

Your first instinct will be to immediately sprint out of your bunk. Don’t.

Instead, change into your finest clothing. Put on a tux, a dress, or at the very least brush your hair.

The lifeboats are on the first-class deck. They are an invitation-only party that you need to crash. It will help if you look the part.

Something about this format just makes me feel great.I think feeling prepped triggers dopamine, even if it’s only prepped for if you ever accidentally go back in time.

The full piece is a hugely enjoyable read.

(Incidentally, I found this piece via The Browser.)

A simulation of dyslexia and auditory processing disorder

More people do things like this! I want to know what it is like to be in other people’s heads!

I actually have a mild auditory processing disorder, and this is exactly what it’s like! It’s not like fuzzy or quiet or unclear — I can hear you enunciate perfectly, but what you said makes no sense so I know I must have it wrong. I have to wait for the meaning to snap into place a few seconds later. Usually it does; sometimes it doesn’t and I have to ask.

(If I have met you IRL, this is why I often look at your mouth instead of your eyes when you speak. I can’t lip-read at all, but looking at your mouth enables me to hear properly?? Brains are weird. It’s also why a lot of non-Deaf people watch shows with subtitles on.)

How do Edwardian women get such big hairstyles?

Answer: they collect their shedding hair and make it into rolls of hair that can be added back in. The roll of hair is upsettingly called a “hair rat”.

Here’s a contemporary version:

(Image via this YouTube tutorial)

This is pretty much the secret behind almost every white woman and many non-white women (on film or TV or instagram) with thick hair: hair extensions. Probably not made of her own hair. Or, padding underneath. Or a ponytail wig.

I’m not like “oh my god so fake”, more like “hey if you want thick hair, give up on the volumising shampoo and get some fake padding for it, that’s how it’s literally always been done.”

Can’t stop thinking about these two TikToks: Turning Facebook drama into extremely catchy songs

They’ve already gone extremely viral, and I try not to share stuff that’s already viral, but I just… I just love them so much.

What did Caroline do, Helen?

Is this available?

At least partly because I love when someone puts a completely disproportionate amount of craftsmanship and effort into something small and trivial. Like, the top one is a 50-second clip but it has incredible songwriting as well as:

  • his facial expressions
  • three costumes and two sets
  • wind machine
  • pronouncing the typos as-written but without a parodying tone
  • editing two shots together at the end

(I’m actually curious how far into the rest of the internet they’ve made it, so feel free to tell me if you’ve already seen them or haven’t seen them, assuming you’re not on TikTok.)

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Start a newsletter! Online newsletter workshop!

Saturday January 30, 10am to 4pm AEST (Melbourne time)

As you can tell from the fact that this is a newsletter and I linked to two others in it, I genuinely think newsletters are one of the best mediums for writing in in 2020.

I’m running a workshop both for writers who maybe would have started a blog in the 2000s, but don’t do it, a newsletter is for sure the way to go, and also for creators (eg musicians) with a mailing list who want to write to their audience more consistently and interestingly so they stay connected even when you don’t have an album release / exhibition opening etc, but you don’t know what to write about or how often or argh.

More details on the Writers Victoria website, or you can reply to this email if you have questions, I’m happy to answer!

(Also, Writers Vic are great and it’s worth looking at their other writing workshops, I’ve attended a bunch as well as running this one.)

Unsolicited Advice will be back next week, I just didn’t really have any advice this week.


Unsolicited Advice: Stop procrastinating via Zoom co-working sessions

This issue of The Whippet was finished during Writers With Faces, a silent/muted writing session that I randomly stumbled across on twitter this evening.

But also, just google for one in your timezone (or outside it if you keep odd hours), a lot of places are doing these. Your local writing centre probably is. E.g there’s Live Write, run by Writers Victoria, and you can also just set up a regular session at the same time each week with a procrastinating friend who also has some life admin to get through. These have helped me no end in actually getting stuff done.

In the ADHD community, this is called “body-doubling” — having someone in the room (or virtual room) with you, quietly working alongside you. They don’t even have to be working, they can just be scrolling twitter. They’re not judging you or hassling you, they’re just… there. Who knows why it works, but it does.

Thanks so much for reading everyone!

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