The Whippet: Curated news and ideas with 0% contemporary politics


"In the world of introverts, INTPs are pretty outspoken. They have two modes of being: investigating or reporting on the investigations."

Myer-Briggs, man. I know the tests don't tell you anything you didn't tell the test yourself, but they still synthesise the results in a way that can be pretty helpful. (The above quote is from this test, a pretty good example of its kind.)

But the way to make them useful is, instead of going "haha yep that's me" which will be your first reaction, it's to realise that that means there are groups of people for whom that is not true.

If your own Myer-Briggs result feels like it's not that specific, that it describes everyone, then I have some bad news: you are kind of oblivious about how differently various people function. You think everyone is thinks like you do, but they don't. When you read a statement, you need to be thinking "not everyone is like this".

Ages ago I read that INTPs think that the purpose of a conversation is to catch out each other's contradictions so you can both improve the accuracy of your ideas. My first thought was "Yes? That is the purpose of a conversation?" When I realised that other people do not see that as the purpose of a conversation, my social skills improved in one fairly instantaneous leap.

Whippet news // especially Patreon supporters should read this


I've been doing this almost six months (three week short!), and it's been good! But it's not the only kind of writing I want to do. In order to make time for that other writing (fiction), The Whippet is going to move to fortnightly. This buys me six good hours on a Wednesday, which is a hefty addition to be able to put towards short stories and/or a book.

I am sorry about this! Time and energy are finite and almost totally consumed by paid employment (not just for me, for everyone reading this). Prioritisation starts getting genuinely painful (again, for everyone). Do you want to make music and see your friends? Okay, probably you can do that. Do you want to make music and paint wildflowers and see your friends? What are you, landed gentry or something? It really sucks.

If you have other suggestions or thoughts on this (half-size Whippet every week?) please send them to thewhippet@mckinleyvalentine.com , and also obviously feel free to adjust/retract your Patreon support!

If you also want to tell me about how you balance time/energy/money/creative output/relationships, I'm just personally interested in hearing about it. What have you sacrificed? Are you okay with that? DO you have plans to get it back? And if you want me to encourage you to quit your job and go live in a yurt, I can definitely support you in that. Email me.

France's illegal underground artist collective

"UX has developed a cellular structure, with subgroups specializing in cartography, infiltration, tunneling, masonry, internal communications, archiving, restoration, and cultural programming."

"UX’s most sensational caper (to be revealed so far, at least) was completed in 2006. A cadre spent months infiltrating the Pantheon, the grand structure in Paris that houses the remains of France’s most cherished citizens. Eight restorers built their own secret workshop in a storeroom, which they wired for electricity and Internet access and outfitted with armchairs, tools, a fridge, and a hot plate. During the course of a year, they painstakingly restored the Pantheon’s 19th- century clock, which had not chimed since the 1960s.

"They’d been contemplating the project for years, but it became urgent: Oxidation had so crippled the works that they would soon become impossible to fix without re-creating, rather than restoring, almost every part. “That wouldn’t be a restored clock, but a facsimile,” Kunstmann [their leader] says."

After they repaired it, they secretly notified the Pantheon's director, thinking he would be happy to take credit for restoring the clock. Instead, he tried to sue them - and then hired a clockmaker to re-damage the clock back to its previous condition (the clockmaker refused, and only disabled it).

"Kunstmann has a gloomy view of contemporary civilization, and in his eyes this affair illustrates many of its worst faults—its fatalism, complacency, ignorance, parochialism, and negligence. French officials, he says, bother to protect and restore only the patrimony adored by millions—the Louvre, for example. Lesser-known sites are neglected, and if they happen to be out of public view—underground, say—they disintegrate totally, even when all that’s needed is a hundred-dollar leak repair. UX tends the black sheep: the odd, the unloved, the forgotten artifacts of French civilization."

Why do they care about these places? Kunstmann answers this question with questions of his own. “Do you have plants in your home?” he asks impatiently. “Do you water them every day? Why do you water them?"

This article is full of so many rad things - like, they operate mainly in tunnels underneath Paris, where they've set up a cinema (they stole maps in an early heist). They've invented sneaky mechanisms for hiding secret entrances. I had to leave stuff out for length but they've done so many cool things.

Spancel: horrible/fascinating

I accidentally made a skirt spancel when I cut the hem off a too-long skirt: one huge, inch-wide loop of cloth.

A spancel is that, but made from a human. " An unbroken hoop of skin cut with incantations from a corpse across the entire body from shoulder to footsole." You put them around a living man to control him. It shows up in Arthurian legend - TH White's The Once and Future King, Witch-Queen Morgause uses one on Arthur - but it's probably a much older folkloric thing.

Anyway, I think about spancels more often than is probably healthy.

Australians don’t loiter in public space – the legacy of colonial control by design

Oh man, I am breaking an unspoken Whippet rule with this one, because it made me so, so mad.

I feel like – say a friend is crashing on your couch because he’s out of work and would be homeless otherwise. He’s not a close friend – kind of annoying actually – but he has nowhere else to go. It’s been months, and it’s really starting to exhaust you, not having the space to yourself, but the guy’s really been trying to get a job, it’s just a shitty time economically, so you grit your teeth and spend a lot of your time in your room, and you try not to voice your frustrations because you know it’s not his fault.

And then you find out that he hasn’t been trying to find work at all, he’s just been making shit up about jobs he’s supposedly applied for. Not only that, but his girlfriend has been giving him money to pass on to you, because he told her he felt so guilty about not being able to pay his way. But he’s just been spending it himself.

Suddenly all the irritating things about him switch from “unavoidable side-effect of a difficult situation” to “completely avoidable antagonisms that have been deliberately perpetrated against me”.

That’s how I feel right now.

I’ve always had this issue with Australian cities, where I feel like they don’t really do public space. You can never just be anywhere, you always have to go somewhere, and you have to spend money if you want to hang out there. Even when I have money, this is a galling, hostile attitude for a city to take, that makes it feel kind of cold and unfriendly. Culturally too, we’re so used to it, that if you sit down on the ground or under a tree, people will be a bit weird about and give you looks or ask what you’re up to, etc.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, spend some time in European cities, and you will suddenly realise how odd Australia is on this front (probably non-Euro cities too but I wouldn’t know).

Anyway I always thought this was me being kind of a hypersensitive weirdo, until I read this article:

Australian cities lack a sense of public space because they were explicitly designed that way. The early governors modelled Sydney and Melbourne on European cities, but specified that there should be no public squares, no spaces where people could gather, because they were worried about rebellions forming. (That kinda makes sense when you’re governing from a three-month sea voyage away.)

“The placing of ornate, iron, wooden, or stone fences at first glance seemed to serve a purely decorative purpose. It can still be seen in the bluestone footings around the Carlton Gardens and State Library of Victoria where the iron fences once stood.

This form was a disguise of the function so people could not climb over, slide through, dig under, and sometimes see over these barriers. Gates were opened at a particular time of the morning and locked at sunset to deny access to the public under the cover of darkness.

As a result, the implied loitering that comes with public spaces is foreign to inhabitants of Melbourne. We do not know what to do with them.

Even today, the city’s main square (Federation Square) was not designed as a place to be in. It was designed as a place to go and do things in. Hence we find shops and galleries and organised events there. For a city square to be completely successful, it must feel natural to use, to just be there.” Full article

That feeling wasn’t my imagination! It’s real, and it was done deliberately to achieve a certain effect, and it succeeded.

Solicited Advice

"What do you do to stop yourself from getting mad at people?"


Hm! This is an important question, because anger so easily leads to unacceptable behaviour. Like, if you feel the urge to hit people or yell at them when you're angry, you gotta come up with some pretty good systems for dealing with anger, right, if you want to not be an awful person?

The thing is that I almost never get angry at individuals, and because of that I have never developed any particularly sophisticated methods for dealing with anger. I tend to view most shitty behaviour as a product of systems and circumstances, so I get mad at systems instead of individuals.

The classic example is, a waitress is rude to you or fucks up your order. The first anybody does to not get mad is think "she's probably having a really hard day. This is probably the end of a 12-hour shift. Maybe her babysitter cancelled and she had to ask her mum to look after the baby so she could work her shift, and then her mum have her a long speech about how she was a bad parent and her kid was going to grow up to be worse than she is".

Then you won't be mad, you'll be kind. Bit if you're me, you'll also think about the system that has meant this waitress has to work 12-hour shifts, can't afford reliable childcare, and is dependent on a toxic relative.

Like the article above about public space. A systemic problem. I was so angry. I couldn't calm down, I was fuming and felt like the world was so messed up, when it could be so good, and I felt like I couldn't do anything except be mad. The way I dealt with this was to keep feeling angry until my anger glands burned out and i was completely emotionally exhausted, at which point I no longer had any energy to care with and I lay on the ground staring at the ceiling. Damn the Man.

Like I say, not a sophisticated method. But yeah, with individuals, I assume they're having a shitty time, assume I'm probably misperceiving the level of injustice in my favour ('Do unto others 20% better than you'd expect them to do unto you, to correct for subjective error.' — Linus Pauling), and also I care what people think of me. You will hear that you shouldn't care what people think of you, but sometimes the appeal to your own narcissism can be really effective (You know what you think of someone who throws a tantrum at a waitress, right? Is that how you want to be viewed?)

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James Altucher doesn't live as if it's his last day on earth, because he needs to make plans for the future, his kids, etc. Instead, he lives as if it's everyone else's day on earth:

What that means to him:

"– be kind to them

– try to help them be less stressed

– try to fulfill their dreams for the day

– not talk badly about them. Don’t talk badly about someone about to die. Too soon!

– Hug them if it’s appropriate. Or kiss them. Not the people I’m going to business with later. That might be too much. But I will be nice to them anyway.

– Really listen to them. I will listen to everyone’s last words today without interrupting them. Even if I can finish their sentence because I am light years ahead of them I will let them finish their sentences without my stupid voice piercing the air with its presumption.

– Learn from them. I will picture as if some universal life force is speaking to me through everyone else. I will listen carefully for clues that I can piece together later. These are the only clues that god will ever give me so don’t interrupt.

– Don’t opinionate all over them. What does it matter if I change their minds today? Do they really need my fantastic thoughts? They are going to die anyway."


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

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