I admit it. I am somewhat of a contrarian thinker. Unlike the sheeple that surround me and make up the white noise on the internet, I am a unique spec of frozen water sitting on the window sill.
I hate Elon Musk.
When it comes to former tech darlings turned silicon valley douche bags, none are inducing of more conflicting feelings in me than Elon Musk. Whilst close friends of mine may raise their eyebrows at the lack of “No homo!” in that last sentence, I can assure you that is not the case. Elon annoys the hell out of me. And the only thing that is more annoying than him is his fandom. Sorry, folks . . . your not going to Mars just for virtually kissing your idol’s feet.
I don’t know what to tell you.
Unlike his peers like Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos or the ghost of Steve Jobs (I suppose saying Tim Cook would be less disrespectful. As if I give a fuck), it’s hard to outright HATE Elon Musk (indeed, despite using those very words previously!). Unlike most in his class of industry (big tech), one can actually see the potential of many of his industrious activities for the future of the commons. Unlike the social media heavyweights that are turning personal information into the new oil (ironically as real-life oil is on the cusp of a terminal decline in valuation), Musk’s projects seem to be taking on many of this era’s (along with future era’s) biggest problems and threats, even when there is little profit in it.
The most obvious example of this is Tesla. Before Tesla, the company that comes to mind as being most forward-thinking in the category was (oddly enough) GM. Between 1997 and 1999, they built and released 1,117 units of a vehicle they called the EV1. Though the unit tended to be a hit among its consumer adopters (remember that charging infrastructure was less than half of what currently exists. Talk about range anxiety!), GM reclaimed and destroyed most of the units it built (though some were donated to museums and educational institutions). Though a clear reason was seemingly never given, many people have come to their own conclusions, often with the help of films like Who Killed The Electric Car.
“Threat? Of course not! We are not a vindictive company. All we are saying is, sometimes, accidents happen . . .“
Either way, the end of the EV 1 would come in 2003 when GM officially started forcefully taking them back from the lessees, with the majority being seemingly returned by 2006. It was just as GM and the rest of the vehicle manufacturers were set to flood the market with large Sedans and SUVs since gas prices were low and consumer’s demands for space were high. Though the American automotive industry thrived for close to a decade on these aluminum monstrosities, the enormous spike in the price of gasoline near the end of the 2000s (not to mention the financial crisis) quickly made short work of those nearsighted gains.
Either way, enough of that. Though GM apparently decided that short-term profits were preferable to being the drivers of long-term change, Elon Musk had no such inclinations. Though Tesla was also launched in 2003, was it because of the EV1’ss withdrawal?
Not likely, this article poses.
Tesla would not release it’s first vehicle until 2008. And just over a decade later, many of those vehicles (along with early model S’s, and pretty much everything else released since) are still on the road and holding their value fairly well. This is saying something, considering how many 10 to 20-year-old models of any manufacturer I see my buddy Coyboy crush at any one time. There is never a shortage of 2000’s era suvs and sedans on his loaders forks.
Cowboy calls all his subscriber’s buddies, and always opens with a “Howdy! Howdy!” and closes with a “Be careful and be kind!”. He’s a good-natured, hard-working Texan with many interesting or amusing things to say, all against the backdrop of the surprisingly therapeutic aesthetic that is automotive recycling and destruction. Not to mention the interesting cast of characters around him (like his sidekick, Mario).
Show him some love with a sub and a comment, and he might do a shout-out (crush a vehicle of your choice with your name on it!). He crushed one for me awhile ago!
In any case, while I have heard the argument made that companies like Tesla are simply helping to keep perpetuating the resource-intensive suburban sprawl-driven status quo of the last era, I can’t help but view the electrification progress in a positive light. Even if the consumer-owned passenger vehicle market could be made redundant by easily fetched self-driving equivalents in the future, we’re far from that reality now. Not to mention that advances in battery technology are only going to be good when these are eventually applied first to the freight transportation sector, and then the power grid (in terms of creating storage capacity).
I don’t know if Tesla is going to keep holding its ground as the EV leader as more and more automakers and start-ups we have yet to encounter throw their weight behind electrification in the coming years. However, I suspect that they are better positioned than many traditional auto manufacturers given the resources that will need to be put towards retooling.
Given that Tesla is essentially the pioneer after GM dropped the ball, I like that they should have a place in the new era they helped create (though I suspect as an acquired subsidiary of some future conglomerate). However, it’s STILL kind of a bittersweet feeling, knowing who got the ball rolling.
Another Elon project that I also admire is Starlink, which is his planed and recently deployed network of satellites which aim to provide modern-era grade broadband to users near and far from traditional sources, whilst also providing another option for users in monopolized ISP service areas (WRONG! More on that, later). Whilst it was thought that Google was on the path to breaking ISP monopolies with its fiber services, that rollout was paused after reaching 6 metropolitan areas in 2016.
Interestingly enough, some speculate that Google’s goal with the project was less affordable broadband crusader than it was a net neutrality backstop. In a nutshell, the more Google services that can be delivered VIA direct connections to ISP’s (as opposed to coming in with the rest of the incoming internet traffic), the less they have to worry about paying for their traffic to move in a tiered future.
This approach is already fairly common, with many services being served out of either self-deployed or contracted CDN’s (content delivery networks). While many larger websites like Google, Facebook and Netflix use their own, platforms like Cloudflare provide the service for a fee. In some cases, it’s to improve the user experience (no matter where you log in, there is a server reasonably close to your location). In other cases (like that of Netflix), it’s to try and keep high bandwidth processes off the open internet. For example, when you cue up the majority of offerings on Netflix, the source server is located right within your ISP.
According to early users of the Starlink service, it is so far proving more than capable of handling everything from average to heavy household bandwidth workloads (as showcased by Linus Tech Tips HERE, along with some praise in this CBC article). And with its prosed price being about $100 per month for uncapped access to up to 100Mbps, the price is quite reasonable.
Where the concept of Starlink bothers me is in its lack of competition with anything comparable in many instances. In places of monopoly, this service could well serve to push prices down and service quality up (how else will companies like Comcast compete?). However, it will be the default monopoly for (I suspect) a vast majority of its service area. Given this, I can’t help but be highly suspicious.
While many people seem to have the complete opposite feelings that I have in regards to how this will affect net neutrality (“Musk will save net neutrality!”), I don’t share the same faith in the man that Reddit (and the media generally) clearly does.
For one, because satellite internet service is the perfect candidate for why tiering of bandwidth-hogging data streams may be argued to be necessary. Unlike cable, DSL, and fiber (where CDNs can help somewhat with congestion), everything has to be sent up to (and through) the Starlink satellite network. Unless that bottleneck has already been considered, I can’t help but see this as eventually being an issue as more unconnected households become heavy bandwidth consumers on the service (and applications keep becoming more bandwidth-intensive in the future). Which could mean either blocks, tiers, or caps down the road.
My other reason for mentioning this is that even the Elon Musk subreddit can not give us any quotes on what Elon thinks about net neutrality. The closest we can get is people making assumptions because he is logical. Considering all the other subjects that the man has run his mouth on (including AI), I find this lack of commentary oddly suspect.
I would also be remiss to not mention one unfortunate drawback of the growing Starlink network of satellites. Their increasing existence and movements may end up driving telescopic space exploration out into space itself.
Whilst the aversion that many astronomers (and scientists in general) have towards philosophy has soured most of the interest I once had in that area of study, even I can’t help taking issue with this. Even if only because getting past this new obstacle may well cost the taxpaying public billions more.
Ideally, Space X should have to make up the cost as a form of reparations for clouding what was once the commons for profit. But I’ll be VERY surprised if that ever happens.
Next on the list is the Boring Company, of which I don’t really have a strong opinion. Well, aside from the whole concept seeming to be hellishly expensive AND fairly limited in scope (compared to the potentials of both Tesla and Space X).
Ah yes, Space X. Elon Musk’s personal NASA program.
While I don’t have all that much of an opinion on Space X itself, my concern lies in the reason for its reason for existence. That is, as a vehicle for the eventual colonization of the Moon, Mars, and who knows what next. Whilst he is among the many (including the late Stephan Hawking) to emphasize that the survival of the species depends on our finding a new home planet, I suspect a somewhat more libertarian (authoritarian?) agenda behind this push.
Elon Musk has his sights set on Mars with SpaceX leading the charge and pushing its Mars mission into the stratosphere. But what about the laws on the Red Planet, who makes them up? Who defines them, enforces them? It’s a great question.
Musk plans a Mars colony that will not be ruled by any “Earth-based government”, and that it will follow its own “self-governing principles”. SpaceX will use its Starlink internet project to give those that colonize Mars access to internet services, and these people will not be forced into recognizing international law.
There you have it. The reason for Starlink.
While this isn’t exactly new behavior (most Wall Street crooks have some sort of Jeffry Epstein-esk “I’m going to buy an island with no laws, and YOU can’t touch me!” getaway plan that fails once the SEC comes knocking), Elon certainly takes the concept to a new whole level. Even the Catholic church didn’t have the resources to focus on shifting its most troubled faculty literally off the face of the earth.
Note: In no way am I insinuating that Elon Musk is a wall street crook (aside from maybe brushing with the law accidentally, usually by way of a wayward tweet). Nor am I putting him on par with the Catholic Church. Clearly, when it comes to pure and unadulterated evil, the Catholic church is the winner, hands down.
Having said that, though, it says something when even that bastion of organized crime (of which has essentially a small country of its own!) is still usurped by a rich guy from South Africa.
“SPACE PROGRAM! Why didn’t we think of that before buying all this gold & big ass pointy hats!”
When it comes to why I don’t exactly trust the judgment of rich fucks to play fair and humane when allowed to create their very own playgrounds of excess, one needs to look no further than locations right here on earth. If you want to see the indentured servitude, rampant abuse, and other blatantly unprogressive problems that often accompany these meccas of influence, look no further than Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Though Seth McFarlen made light of this middle eastern phenomenon in the American Dad episode Stan Of Arabia, it’s hardly a laughing matter for anyone caught in the trap.
In a nation where even bankruptcy laws are non-existent, even Westerners aren’t free from the reaction of the state. This can lead to fascinating phenomena such as a glut of abandoned supercars.
Since the previous paragraph runs the risk of sending completely the wrong message (“We are so much better in the west than those OTHER places with communism and SHARIA LAW!”), I should clarify.
1.) Dubai and the UAE appear to be starting to be slightly more forgiving of debts accumulated. I’m guessing that hauling hundreds of abandoned supercars to the world’s richest junkyard wasn’t exactly the best look in terms of selling life in the Emirate.
Granted, according to this blogger, your mileage may vary. Drastically.
2.) Whilst it would be easy to make this all about Western values VS Sharia Law, I will not bring the conversation in that direction.
And not out of fear or moral relativism, either. Whether the power structure is in a Western or Islamic context, as they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely. No matter what guidelines Musk may set out for the newly autonomous lunar and/or martian society, how do you keep to that trajectory? What is there to keep the elites from turning it into another state of indentured servitude?
Hell . . . what guarantee do we have that Elon won’t himself turn into the dictatorial figure? After all, in the past few years, many of his actions have not always been all that different from those of Donald Trump. The big difference is that Musk generally does not catch hell from most of the public when he does things like drastically sway stocks by speaking (or Tweeting) freely.
This brings me to another moment of . . . mixed feelies. The sight of Elon throwing gasoline on the fire that WallStreetBets had already lit under the GME stock. An action that I find hilarious since he seemingly knows all too well what it’s like to be on the short end of the hedge fund balance sheet. But on the other hand, it’s hard not to view it as a form of market manipulation (the same type as caused by Donald Trump, when an unscripted interview sent a stock reeling). Whilst it is certainly protected under the American first amendment, one can’t help but consider this as a fascinating case of testing old laws and norms in a new reality. Never before have even YouTube personalities had a bigger voice, nor have everyday people had more access to the stock market. Even I am in the markets now!
Speaking of market manipulation . . . Bitcoin. I had recently decided to give it a shot (trusting the referral of a friend), downloading an app and grabbing a small amount of both Bitcoin and Ethereum. Something that was a huge step for me, considering that I wrote THIS a little over a year ago.
Though I only had both for a short time (less than a month), I decided to sell and jump back out of crypto on account to thinking that the Biden Administration was going to start attempting to regulate the sector. In particular, it was Jannet Yellen’s use of the phrase misuse of bitcoin that startled me. Assuming that it was going to cause the already volatile currencies to tank, I sold.
Not more than a few days after, Elon Musk (through Tesla) dumped 1.5 million dollars worth of rocket fuel into Bitcoin, sending the valuation to the moon. I missed out, my buddy made around $50 (fucker). And Elon raised even more eyebrows by committing what many see as a blatant act of market manipulation.
Few figures inspire a more fascinating and yet infuriatingly irritating mix of emotions as Elon Musk does in me. On one hand, the fact that someone like me (a hater) would take the time to actually put all of this to paper is telling (though it’s not my first time trashing the guy). It illustrates a bit of what drives the infamous Elon fanboyism within myself, obviously. And honestly . . . who can’t say they don’t feel even a little bit envious of the power of the man and his attempts to shape the future with his pocketbook.
On the other hand, however, how can someone who says something as idiotic as “I think CBD is fake” possibly be someone’s idol?!
Rogan, who relocated his podcast headquarters from California to Texas last year, noted that his new home state has not yet legalized marijuana, but “CBD is legal here.”
“CBD doesn’t do anything. Does it?” Musk said. “I think that’s fake.”
When Donald Trump pulls shit like this, every news organization from Canada to Australia publishes an in-depth fact-checked article. Indeed, Trump never happens to have the friendly corrections of Joe Rogan (or anyone even remotely sane, for that matter) around when he slips up. Nonetheless, the differences are not always as clear as they ought to be.
The lesson that we can all learn from Elon Musk (and from any other human, really), is to never put people above their innate humanity. Whilst many of us tend to hold those we view in esteem to a higher (and often irrefutable) standard, this is bad etiquette when used in the context of humans that are vulnerable to the same pitfalls that we are. Whether people are accidentally incorrect or maliciously disingenuous, the result is the same if you are lapping it all up without a 2ed thought.