No Complaints #92: Colman's, Copying and Closure

I hope you had a nice week off from getting my newsletter. Hello to the new people who signed up while I was away. I expect you have questions about wtf this is: I have tried to answer them here.

Things to read

“You look like you’re managing things that would floor other people, sensible people. Though nothing could be further from the truth. You become a person for whom it is second nature to find courage or aggression in yourself because you are frightened and vulnerable. Or you resort to passive-aggression, which is often my miserable chosen defence. Anything to avoid addressing the fact that you are terrified.”

Deborah Orr, being magnificent about how she is acknowledging and tackling her mental health problems. Email to Pocket.


“The drawing of her invention in her patent submission looks pretty similar to kitchen tongs. In a small black and white line drawing, the straightener has two handles that hinge in the center so that the user can clamp the irons together. Because this was 1893, there was no plug for the iron; it would have been heated over a fire or on a stove. ”

The story of the forgotten woman who invented the hair straightener. Email to Pocket.


“Even with all of the cool and not at all alarming stuff happening this past year, I was able to divert my attention to a personal goal of trying to figure out how much Diet Pepsi I consumed in 12 months.”

I found this amusing. I don't dare count how often I do bad things. Email to Pocket.


“Usually about 75 per cent of all gym memberships are taken out in the month of January. Not only this, but the economics of the industry absolutely depend on the fact that a very great proportion of January joiners will not visit more than three or four times in total before their membership comes to a floundering flop of weight not lost at the end of the year. The founder of Colman’s Mustard used to claim that his fortune was based on the bit of mustard that everyone left behind on their plate, but gym memberships have really pushed things to the limit when it comes to this model of making people pay for a lot more of the product than they have any likelihood of using.”

Your gym is a giant scam, basically. Email to Pocket.


“I don’t really – not really-really – know anything until I’ve copied it out, by hand, with pen and paper. Note-taking helps me to memorise the most useful, interesting, beautiful or aggravating parts of a book. It also means that whenever I want to retrieve a reference from something I’ve read, I can find it in my notebook. Not marked with a torn-up train ticket and then replaced on a bookshelf but I’ve forgotten which bookshelf, or given to a charity shop in the hopeful belief I’d never need to think about it again; but in my notebook, with a page number, marked on the contents page.”

I peer pressured my friend Sarah into writing this post about her awesome system of note-taking while she reads, so you all have to read it now. Doing this is a new thing I'm going to try this year, incidentally - ask me in 12 months how it's gone. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

Have I recommended On Being with Krista Tippett before? I can't remember. Anyway, it's good enough to justify a second go - it's a show about what it means to be human, told through conversations with interesting people. I find it simultaneously soothing and motivating. Start with this interview with Rebecca Solnit, and then try this one with a therapist who says there's no such thing as closure. This chat with Maria Popova from the most recent episode was also very good.

+ My podcast column this week was about ways that podcasts can improve you.


Things to watch

In the most recent episode of SRSLY, we picked the pop culture things coming up in 2017 that we are most excited about. So I watched a lot of trailers this week, and I wanted to share a few of them here.

The Worst Witch

La La Land

The Handmaid's Tale (bit of a cheat, this one, but I'm excited so...).

A Series of Unfortunate Events


Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Someone has to keep the illuminated lawn looking nice.


The guest gif

Up high.


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THE END. See you next time!