Holes, taxation and the taxers, the anarchist history of Frank Herbert

I’ve been stretching my earlobe piercings back out. I was up to 0 gauge, but I was annoyed by the jewelry and removed it for a few years. At that point I assumed they would shrink somewhat. I found some old 6g plugs that still fit loosely, so I got some 4g tunnels. Those also fit. They kept falling out in bed, though — so I ordered 2g tunnels. And you know what? They fit! It seems my earlobes relaxed around them again. I might be able to get back to 0g without seeing a piercer and progress my way up to 00g. Onward, if I like.

0g is about the diameter of a pencil, which is a fun size. But I’m getting older which means I need to get weirder, and bigger holes in my body is cool. I’ve got three holes in my nose now, and three holes elsewhere on my body, and I’m trying to decide what’s next.


I’ve been dying to see Monkey Man since its first trailer (the unedited one with the great takedowns), but I want to see it even more learning that hijra are key to the movie. (Variety) Dev Patel says it’s a story for the marginalized, and thus must include hijra, who are an underclass of third-gender people in India (to oversimplify it).


The actress who portrayed The Unknown at the Glasgow Willy Wonka scam experience is getting more jobs, which is good. (Vanity Fair) One dude was behind the scammy bits; the employees were doing their best.

I think there’s a good chance The Unknown becomes an enduring cultural character. Imagine being the sixteen-year-old who originated that…thing.


Egypt invented taxation as we know it. (Smithsonian Mag) I actually just learned somewhat about Egyptian taxation from reading Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud with my 9yo. The mural he uses to describe sequential story told in art involves taxation of crops, anyway, and I don’t often think about taxation as a direct levy on assets rather than simply taking a percentage of currency.

The Smithsonian article goes into the whole thing in fascinating detail.

For most of its history, ancient Egypt levied taxes on goods, with officials collecting dues in the form of grain, textiles, labor, cattle and other commodities. The amount of taxes owed was often linked to agriculture, with a certain percentage of a field’s harvest earmarked for state-run granaries or administrative storage centers. Interestingly, taxes were adjusted for field productivity—a parallel to modern income tax brackets, with different categories established based on the amount of wealth incurred.

“Fields were taxed in different ways, and the rate was dependent on the individual field productivity and the fertility and quality of the soil,” says Moreno Garcia. “But the government was determining the base tax rate dependent on the height of the Nile.”

On Elephantine, an island in Upper Egypt, 19th-century archaeologists discovered a nilometer, a sprawling staircase used to measure the Nile’s flood levels. (Remnants of other nilometers can be found in the ancient city of Thmuis, on Rhoda Island and elsewhere in Egypt.) If the water rose above a marked line, it signaled flooded fields and a poor harvest; if it fell too low, that meant a drought and dying crops.


The movie adaptation of Nightbitch is coming out in December. (Variety) I am eager to see Amy Adams going hog on raw steak and pooping on a neighbor’s lawn. Once it’s streaming, of course. Monkey Man might get me out of the house to the theater, but very few movies call to me that way anymore.


The McDonald’s locations operated in Israel were donating food to the IDF. Apparently McDonald’s corporate didn’t like having such actions reflect on them when they weren’t the ones making the decisions (those locations are owned by a franchisee), so they’ve bought back all those McDonald’s. (NPR)


The Apple Vision Pro is now compatible with some 8BitDo controllers, and I still don’t have one. :’) (Engadget)


Denis Villeneuve is going ahead with Dune Messiah after all. (TSFKA Tor dot com) I feel lukewarm about it. Dune is kinda too interesting for Villeneuve? But I doubt they’d reach Messiah if it were done by someone who embraced its weirdness more viscerally.

As The Transmetropolitan Review notes:

Frank Herbert, the author of Dune, lived the happiest parts of his childhood in a failed socialist colony called Burley, located along the Salish Sea near the city of Tacoma, Washington. It was dreary and cold during the fall and winter, and back in the day, before Herbert was born, all the excitement was further down the sea in the anarchist Home Colony, a much more successful experiment in collective living. While the socialists of Burley struggled to replicate their small colony, Home grew bigger every year, even converting some of Burley’s socialists into anarchist defectors. […]

Make no mistake, Home housed some committed, dedicated, and fervent anarchists, and some of them weren’t just homesteaders like Frank Herbert’s family, they were anarchist homesteader militants who smuggled dynamite, fomented uprisings in the coal fields of Vancouver Island, sheltered fugitives, shot at private detectives during strikes, and called for the death of capitalism. Beyond this, these anarchists were directly implicated in the 1910 bombing of the ultra-reactionary and anti-labor Los Angeles Times building, given they helped hide the man who supplied the dynamite, the anarchist David Caplan.

Read the whole thing please, it’s a good one. Dune’s foundation comes from something strongly counter-cultural, opposed to empire in a real way that most people can’t relate to. Herbert was a deeply imperfect man. But it’s basically impossible to make a blockbuster — with the financing involved — that will be honest to its messaging.

In the end, Frank Herbert’s Dune and Dune Messiah serve up some of the oldest anarchist propaganda, not only by commenting on the corrupting influence of centralized power, but by spending nearly 1,000 pages to reaffirm one of anarchism’s oldest slogans: no one is fit to rule, and no one deserves to be a slave.


Dammit, George Santos just keeps making me laugh. (Vanity Fair)

Given that LaLota was one of Santos’s biggest GOP critics, most people assumed the decision to try to unseat a former colleague had to do with revenge. But according to Santos, that assumption could not be further from the truth. The real reason he’s running for the First? Because it would put him in the suburbs, where he could realize an apparently longtime wish to own chickens.

This dude belongs on a satire show like Veep, not in reality.


From Gizmodo via Quartz: NASA’s Voyager 1 probe has been glitching for months and we finally know why

NASA engineers pinpointed the cause behind the mission’s odd anomaly, and think they can help the interstellar probe make sense again.

Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory believe the Voyager 1 spacecraft has been sending nonsensical data due to corrupted memory hardware in the spacecraft’s flight data system (FDS).

The engineers are hoping to resolve the issue by finding a way for FDS to operate normally without the corrupted memory hardware, enabling Voyager 1 to begin transmitting data about the cosmos and continue its journey through deep space.

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