The Whippet: destroyed at dawn and renewed again each night


Dear bandit-faced raccoons,

So today is my birthday! It’s also my first day of jury duty. Obviously I won’t be allowed to talk about it in The Whippet, but even if I could, I wouldn’t, because I’m terrified of mob intimidation. This might already be too much. A mob guy could be reading The Whippet, go “oh, jury duty today eh? Well my brother’s on trial today. I’m gonna go break her kneecaps until she says Not Guilty.” (Which I would do, I would fold like a flower. Please do not tell the jury selectors this, I’m really excited and I don’t want to be rejected. I have an extremely neutral outfit planned out and I’m not going to tell them that I think all rich people should be imprisoned on principle.)

“But McKinley, it will probably just be a workers’ comp case or something.”* That doesn’t help! DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY TIES THERE ARE BETWEEN PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT AND ORGANISED CRIME? Look, this is from a month ago: 'Building company linked to underworld figure Mick Gatto allegedly ripped off workers'. THAT COULD BE MY CASE.

Australia is super vulnerable to money laundering, because we're a really stable economy with hardly any regulation around it, which is an unusual combo. Also, I live in Brunswick. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, please enjoy this transcript of a major drug deal made in February. It was recorded on the main shopping strip by a dealer-turned-informer wearing a wire.

MATTAS: Come over here mate, we're sitting out the fucking front, I mean, cunts go past, what the fuck do you…
ARICO: What are you worried about? Listen, this is Brunswick. We run the show here buddy.

(Note: Rocco Arico does not run the show here any more. He is probably going to be deported to Italy.)

Man, being in the mafia would be so scary. Anyone might decide to shoot you or rat you out any time. I don’t know how they stand the anxiety. Brunswick is actually really safe, if you don’t buy half a million dollars’ worth of cocaine off anyone, which honestly I find pretty easy to avoid doing. But if you were in the mob, you’d be going “Brunswick is actually really safe, there’s a shooting every couple of years, but it’s literally only ever someone involved in organised cri--OH NO THAT’S ME.”

Another thing I wouldn’t have the constitution for: wearing a wire around people who will kill you if they find out you’re wearing a wire, which is probably most of the situations you would wear a wire in. It's like Shakespeare says, "Neither a cop nor a robber be."

...there's a $15,000 fine for doing any independent research once a trial has commenced, so I have to get it all in now.

* Civil trials can go before a jury in Victoria.

Lukunsky grove


The Lukunsky grove is the northern-most piece of forest on earth. It's in Siberia, and the only tree growing in it is the Dahurian larch. This is just a lonely fact I like to think about. Google maps link.

This spider's retinas burn out every morning and regrow every night

Gah! The Rufous Net-casting Spider (rufous just means reddish) has six regular spider-eyes and two massively enlarged ones that point forward, like searchlights. This gives it very good aiming ability with its net.

"At night they build a rectangular, postage-stamp-sized web, made with wool-like, entangling silk threads. These little nets are made among low vegetation, usually above a surface across which prey animals are likely to walk (e.g. a broad leaf , a tree trunk or even a house wall). After spinning its web the spider deposits some spots of white faeces on this surface to act as aiming points. The spider hangs head down from a trapeze of silk, holding the net in its front pairs of legs;and there it waits, its enormous eyes watching for prey movement across the white aiming spots. When an insect passes over the white target spots, the spider opens the stretchy web to two or three times its resting size and lunges it downward over the unsuspecting prey."

"The Net-casting spiders' large eyes provide outstanding low-light night vision. Their compound lenses have an F number of 0.58 which means they can concentrate available light more efficiently than a cat (F 0.9) or an owl (F 1.1). The image is focused onto a large, light-receptive retinal membrane (which is destroyed at dawn and renewed again each night)." Source

This incredible night vision, by the way, means they can see stars and galaxies in the night sky that we can't.

Side note: this would be an awesome feature to give a vampire if you happen to be writing a vampire story. Fits with the mythos, based on a 'scary' animal, the star thing is appropriately poignant, and it's a weakness (important for good stories) but also somehow it's more upsetting than their strengths.

Photographer

Story of the no-name showroom models in China's wholesale clothing markets

(3:48, the tiniest documentary)

"Manic beats pump through the cluttered boutique as Wu Anning, a 22-year-old showroom model, stands on a makeshift stage comprised of two wooden crates. Her job is more about speed than glamour: In one day, she will model close to 300 outfits.

"Originally from Fuyang in eastern China’s Anhui province, Wu has been working as a showroom model at Sijiqing Clothing Market in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, since 2014. Her audience is not the fashion industry elite, but wholesale clients looking for new stock.

"Wu’s daily routine begins at 3:30 a.m., when she wakes, washes, and does her makeup. A taxi takes her to work, which begins at 5 a.m. sharp. By 8 a.m., the market is buzzing. Up to 100,000 people each day visit the sprawling garment stalls. The 20-square-meter boutique Wu works in is crowded with six waitresses, one other model, and a constant flow of customers.

“On my busiest day, I tried on 500 dresses and felt so exhausted and dazed I could barely stand up,” Wu says.

"However, the rapid, frequent changes do little to help Wu keep warm in the unheated, draughty boutique. Always one season ahead, the models have to sell spring fashion during the depths of winter. She wraps her cold hands around a plastic cup of porridge to warm them."
Full article.

Scientist at work: tracking muskoxen in the Arctic

This is a long-ish article about the day-to-day work of scientists, which is a good read if you're interested in process, etc. But my favourite part is this: They know the polar bears are eating muskoxen. But they don't know if they're hunting them, or just eating their found carcasses. In order to figure it out, this scientist dresses up in a polar bear costume and approaches muskoxen to see how they respond: if they are neutral or curious, it shows polar bears have not been a threat to them in the past. If they're aggressive or scared, then they've probably been hunted. (He also has a caribou costume to use as a control.)

"On Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean, my apprehension heightens as I approach muskoxen herds on all fours. There is always a possibility of being gored, yet for my protection I can’t carry a gun, and it’s too cold to pepper spray when they charge. But I can leap from the ground onto my feet, which confuses them and halts any charges."
Full article

Unsolicited Advice


How to make Facebook be less terrible


I just re-downloaded Facebook on my phone (I go through phases) and I'm already so mad at it. It has an ad every 5 posts. And for me, the ads are all for fitness scam items like bandage-things you wear on your love-handles so you sweat more there, and I get compulsive urges to write comments explaining why they don't work, so I'm all frazzled and angry all the time --

  1. Sweat isn't fat, you'll lose water weight, but you could just not drink water in the first place, but don't do that either, you need water.

  2. Even if it was fat, you can't control where you lose fat from, its distribution is genetic and you'll lose it from whatever body part your genetics and gender determine. You can only control where you build muscle. Literally any exercise routine or equipment that says it will burn fat in a particular body area (thighs, stomach, butt) is lying to you, just straight up lying.

-- so I finally got around to downloading Friendly for android, and I can't believe I've put up with the official Facebook app for so long. Friendly features:

  1. Show most recent posts first instead of whatever Facebook's algorithms think you should see first

  2. Adblocker (this is a one-off cost of $2.50, rest of the app is free)

  3. Messenger and FB in the one app like the old days

  4. Block all posts with a chosen keyword (I suggest 'females')

  5. Highlight/feature posts with a chosen keyword (birb?)

  6. You know how Facebook/Messenger is both the most likely to spontaneously close and the most likely not to have saved whatever you were drafting when it spontaneously closes? Friendly is like a normal, non-garbage app in this respect.

  7. 'Silent' hours (i.e. tell it not to send you notifications before work, after 10pm, whatever helps)

  8. Move the notification/messenger/feed navigation buttons to the bottom so they're in thumb range.

  9. Hide the 'People you may know' suggestions.

  10. Less drain on battery life

  11. Colour scheme of your choice. This is pretty trivial but man that Facebook blue gets lodged in your brain. It's nice to switch it out for, say, flamingo pink.

It's just better in every way than the official app, There is literally no reason to use the original one (maybe it being really aggravating makes you use it less?).

Android // ios

Social Fixer for Chrome does a similar thing on desktop - including making comments display less annoyingly, hiding posts once you've read them, hiding trending topics (click on the spanner in the top-right and select 'Hide/Show Parts of the Page').

Another, more brutal option is News Feed Eradicator. This does what it says - you have to go look at individual people's pages to see what they've written. It basically allows you to kind of stay on FB - still get invited to parties - while removing some of the addictive/fury-generating properties.

If you want solicited advice, send questions to thewhippet@mckinleyvalentine.com or just reply to this email.

There are two main ways you can support The Whippet!


1. With money. A classic stand-by! Patreon lets you pay anything from $1 a month (25 cents an issue!) to infinity dollars a month (still infinity dollars an issue). It's not locked in or anything though, you can cancel/pause any time. Click here for Patreon

2. By telling a friend how it's good and they should read it:

(Also if you're not subscribed and you want to be, subscribe here!)