Geometric solids power ranking and Josh Brolin's space zither
Reading, watching, Euclidean space recommendations
Remember: You can subscribe to the newsletter by clicking the button below. If you enjoy Read Max, please share it widely!
Longtime readers of Read Max will know that this newsletter has been bullish on orb for a very long time, going back to before its much-touted 2017 appearance with Donald Trump, King Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, and Egyptian President Fattah al-Sisi, considered by many to be orb’s “coming out” party.
In order to make sure that every person gets only their fair share of Worldcoin, the company has created a spherical device, called the Orb, that checks people’s unique iris patterns to verify whether they have a right to some coins. […] Right now, in fact, Worldcoin is running a pilot, involving about 30 Orbs in various countries, and storing a lot of data, including images of peoples’ eyes, bodies, and faces and their three-dimensional scans, according to the company’s own promotion material. […] Alex Blania, who cofounded the company alongside Altman and Max Novendstern, explains that the Orb system allows for beneficial “incentive-alignments.”
But while we continue to think that orb is a long-term hold, we’re troubled by its continued inability to challenge longtime geometric-solid number-one pyramid. The fact is, despite its recent successes, orb’s fundamentals are still not as strong as the five traditional Platonic solids, and until orb can successfully lay claim to one of the four elements and/or aether, it’s unlikely to have the durability to muscle pyramid off of the top. (Pyramid permabears like to claim that pyramid has underperformed its projections since the death of Amenemhat III — but an easy way to shut them up is to ask them to which geometric solid appears on the back of a one-dollar bill. Folks, it ain’t cylinder 😂.)
At the same time, longtime middle-of-the-pack solid cube, best known for the Kaaba, has shown surprising recent strength, especially in partnership with dense metal tungsten. Vice’s Edward Ongweso, Jr. reports:
In the latest phase of the quest to turn everything into an NFT, crypto traders are now bidding to digitally own a 1,784-lb. cube of tungsten in Willowbrook, Illinois. According to the terms of the sale, which will have the receipt posted to the blockchain for posterity, the “owner” can have one supervised visit to the cube per year to touch or photograph it.
Over the past two weeks, a joke fired off by Coin Center's Neeraj Agrawal about a nonexistent tungsten shortage thanks to crypto traders buying cubes of tungsten due to a meme actually caused one for Midwest Tungsten Service. The Illinois manufacturer actually creates small cubes of tungsten, and the tweet caused a 300 percent increase in sales that depleted the company’s stock on Amazon, Coindesk reported.
For this reason, we’re moving cube up to the coveted number-two spot in this week’s geometric-solid power rankings, and downgrading orb to number three.
Geometric Solid Power Rankings, 10/29/2021
Notes: Hyperboloid moves up two spots less out of its own strength than from the weakness of the field… Octahedron remains a strong choice for GS2 in two-solid fantasy leagues… In a promotion/relegation league like EPL or the planets, cylinder likely would have gone the way of Fulham or Pluto a long time ago. You hate to see an old fan favorite so thoroughly mismanaged.
Self-promotion time: I had a great time talking to Maria Bustillos and Harry Siegel about Facebook and journalism on their podcast FAQ NYC this week. I answered questions about my scrolling habits on Embedded. And I wrote the newsletter this week for Discontents, a lefty Substack collective I’m very proud to have joined.
Over the weekend I wrote about the “ragequit,” or right to exit, one of Silicon Valley’s animating fantasies. As an example, I cited the interplanetary colonial ambitions of tech billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos: men who sought to escape the surly bonds of earth to create new models of society and government. Sadly I think I might’ve been too generous to Jeff, who doesn’t even seem to have the imagination to fantasize about neoreactionary space colonies:
Jeff Bezos’s space exploration company Blue Origin has announced plans to launch a commercial space station into low-earth orbit in the latter half of this decade. Describing the endeavour as a “mixed-use business park” in space, Blue Origin, and its main partner on the project, Sierra Space, said it would house up to 10 people in an area of about 30,000 cubic feet. According to a promotional website, the station, to be called Orbital Reef, will be an ideal location for a “space hotel”, “film-making in microgravity” or “conducting cutting edge research”. Those on board would experience 32 sunsets and sunrises each day, the company said.
Imagine looking up at the stars at night and thinking to yourself: someday, I’m going to build a business park up there. At her newsletter Terra Nullius, Atossa Abrahamian gets at what Jeff’s up to — less an Extended Stay Space near a Space Biotech Office Park and a Space Chili’s, and more a Space Export Processing Zone, a place where goods can be manufactured and moved without being subject to national (or planetary) regulatory requirements, taxes, or other duties. She has some questions:
Assuming the cryogenically frozen brain of Jeff Bezos pulls off his masterplan two hundred years from now, will the fruits of his employees’ space labor—the flying cars and gadgets and clothing produced in what is still no man’s land—be considered imports, or … something else? (Astronauts returning to Earth with space trash already had to clear customs, but that was to exit Kazakhstan, not re-enter the atmosphere or national airspace.)
UCSB is building a mystically cursed dorm designed by a powerful ancient architect, and like a shaken H.P. Lovecraft narrator, a consultant is resigning over it and fleeing to the hills:
In his October 25 resignation letter to UCSB Campus Architect Julie Hendricks, Dennis McFadden ― a well-respected Southern California architect with 15 years on the committee ― goes scorched earth on the radical new building concept, which calls for an 11-story, 1.68-million-square-foot structure that would house up to 4,500 students, 94 percent of whom would not have windows in their small, single-occupancy bedrooms.
The idea was conceived by 97-year-old billionaire-investor turned amateur-architect Charles Munger, who donated $200 million toward the project with the condition that his blueprints be followed exactly.
McFadden goes on to call the building “a social and psychological experiment with an unknown impact on the lives and personal development of the undergraduates the university serves” which I think is how Facebook described itself in its S-1 filing.
Two notes about Dune: First, in Tuesday’s lengthy Dunepost, I wrote that Chakobsa, a “battle language” used by House Atreides for military purposes, doesn’t appear to be used in the movie at all. As some commenters pointed out, however, according to HBO Max’s subtitles, Stilgar (Javier Bardem) speaks “Chakobsa” to Paul when they meet. Huh. I was reminded that Chakobsa is, or was, a real “hunting language,” supposedly spoken by Caucasian princes:
So the princes have a special language of their own, a language that is understood only by the prince and his peers. This is the famous hunting language. It was contrived by the inhabitants of the knights’ citadels, the princely palaces, and the robbers’ strongholds. The secret of it is strictly guarded, and no outsider has hitherto succeeded in becoming familiar with it though it is current throughout the whole of the mountains and among all the members of the caste. It is said to be the language of an extinct line of knights; but only within the last few decades has it come to be known about at all, so secretive were the princes. All important business is discussed in this language, secrets that no man must hear, and enterprises which affect the fate of the mountain people. Only five words of it are known to science, and they resemble no single word of any other known language. Shapaka—a horse, amafa—blood, ami—water, asaz—a gun, and ashopshka—a coward. The name of the language itself is Chakobsa.
Frank Herbert seems to have lifted Chakobsa, along with many other details, from Lesley Branch’s Sabres of Paradise, a history of the 19th-century Murid War, which Will Collins wrote about for LARB in 2017.
Second, I lamented that we never got a scene with Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) playing his nine-stringed baliset. But, from an Inverse interview with Denis Villeneuve, on the subject of what was left on the cutting floor:
For instance, there's a song sung by Gurney Halleck, played by Josh Brolin, that was absolutely beautiful that I had to take out of the movie. I'm very sad about it.
If I know that if Part Two is coming, I hope that I will be able to use it.
Thank you for reading Read Max by Max Read. Read Max by Max Read is still figuring out precisely what it is. If you have suggestions, questions, ideas, criticisms, requests, please email me or leave a comment below.