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Sat Nov 25, 2017, 08:34 PM

Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow

It's mid-afternoon on a Friday at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and three of Elon Musk's children are gathered around him one of his triplets, both of his twins.

Musk is wearing a gray T-shirt and sitting in a swivel chair at his desk, which is not in a private office behind a closed door, but in an accessible corner cubicle festooned with outer-space novelty items, photos of his rockets, and mementos from Tesla and his other companies.

Most tellingly, there's a framed poster of a shooting star with a caption underneath it that reads, "When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it's really a meteor hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you're pretty much hosed, no matter what you wish for. Unless it's death by meteorite." To most people, this would be mere dark humor, but in this setting, it's also a reminder of Musk's master plan: to create habitats for humanity on other planets and moons. If we don't send our civilization into another Dark Ages before Musk or one of his dream's inheritors pull it off, then Musk will likely be remembered as one of the most seminal figures of this millennium. Kids on all the terraformed planets of the universe will look forward to Musk Day, when they get the day off to commemorate the birth of the Earthling who single-handedly ushered in the era of space colonization.

And that's just one of Musk's ambitions. Others include converting automobiles, households and as much industry as possible from fossil fuels to sustainable energy; implementing a new form of high-speed city-to-city transportation via vacuum tube; relieving traffic congestion with a honeycomb of underground tunnels fitted with electric skates for cars and commuters; creating a mind-computer interface to enhance human health and brainpower; and saving humanity from the future threat of an artificial intelligence that may one day run amok and decide, quite rationally, to eliminate the irrational human species.


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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Sat Nov 25, 2017, 08:39 PM

1. I really don't understand the fascination with this guy.

While he may be a bourgeois fantasy of some sort, his car is a very, very, very, very, very bad idea, poorly executed and leads to a certain level of delusion that is, frankly, unhealthy.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #1)

Sat Nov 25, 2017, 09:23 PM

3. Actually, Teslas -- particularly the Model S -- are exceptional, well-executed cars

Driven one yet?

It's not difficult to understand why Musk garners all the media attention. He is disrupting and transforming both the transportation and space launch industries -- and for the better, in the view of millions of people.

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Response to Zorro (Reply #3)

Sat Nov 25, 2017, 10:08 PM

4. Um, no. I have no desire to participate in the dumb green washing of the car CULTure...

...especially by making a piece of crap designed by billionaires and millionaires for billionaires and millionaires.

He is, um, not making cars for millions of people. He's to make a car for the upper middle class, and frankly, failing at it.


He hoped and even announced that he planned to make 500,000, um, cars, but can't make 1000 per month.

There are, from my perspective, billions of people on this planet who lack access to even the most rudimentary sanitary systems.

WHO Fact Sheet, Sanitation

Do we talk about these people? Um, no, we'd rather talk about Elon Musk, asshole.

The car is, um, an obscenity, a kind of drug that lulls people into not understanding shit, caring about shit, or seeing shit for what it is.

If you understand environmental issues - particularly if one's understanding derives not from the pop press but from the primary scientific literature - you can easily discern that this crap is no where near sustainable and never will be sustainable.

China, if you must know, has 100 million electric vehicles, mostly scooters. It also has the worst air pollution in the world.

The facts behind this situation were evaluated a few years back in the primary scientific literature:

Electric Vehicles in China: Emissions and Health Impacts (Cherry et al, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2012, 46 (4), pp 20182024)

The problem is that most Americans believe that the source of electricity is a wall socket. And while they're pretending that, they like to draw cute pictures of wind turbines and solar cells, even though almost all the electricity on this planet comes from burning coal and natural gas in, again, an obscene orgy that represents a crime against all future generations.

The wind and solar industry did not work; they are not working; and they will not work, and neither has, is, or will the electric car fantasy.

The electric car will save us mentality that permeates the pop culture is garbage, again, oblivious consumer bourgeois denial, obfuscation and marketing hype. I wouldn't be caught dead driving a Tesla.

Have a nice Sunday.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 26, 2017, 03:13 PM

6. Well, since you self-declared your ignorance about Tesla cars

your assertion that Musk makes a "piece of crap" is dubious at best.

The fact is he manufactures exceptional and desirable vehicles -- while also building rockets, recovering the first stages by landing on barges bobbing in the middle of the ocean, and reusing them successfully for additional missions. They must be the most extraordinary pieces of crap ever manufactured; Lockheed Martin would love to be able to build similar pieces of crap.

But we get it. You despise Musk -- probably because he didn't embrace your preferred power generation technology and build nuclear-powered cars for the masses. I guess not everyone shares that vision.

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Response to Zorro (Reply #6)

Sun Nov 26, 2017, 10:42 PM

7. Like many people defending this asshole, Musk, you entirely missed my point.

This is not surprising. Generally, many people defending the asshole Musk, they have a cartoonish view of the world.

I'm not for nuclear powered cars, nor gasoline cars, nor diesel cars.

I oppose the car CULTure. It's a cult, and it's destroying the planet.

This may come as a surprise to some people who can't imagine anything beyond their bourgeois consumer CULTure, but for many thousands of years, billions of people lived useful, productive and intensely rich lives without owning cars. Many still do, not that people with their heads up the back end of Elon Musk's alimentary canal get it.

Now, as it happens, electric cars in most cases are actually worse than other kinds of cars because of the second law of thermodynamics. If one converts chemical energy into mechanical energy into electrical energy, and then back into chemical energy, then back into electrical energy and finally back into mechanical energy, each transformation involves the loss of energy into entropy.

This as extremely inefficient process, particularly since the vast majority of electricity on this planet comes, again, from burning gas and coal, by far.

Cute little pictures of solar cells and wind turbines not withstanding, no one alive today will ever again see carbon dioxide concentrations in the planetary atmosphere below 400 ppm. And that, by the way is what I care about, not some dipshit manic depressive who keeps stoking the ridiculous fantasies of car CULTists.

406.14 ppm at the Mauna Loa carbon dioxide observatory, week ending November 17, 2017

I would say I know more than the typical Musk worshiping puppy dog about electric cars than the little drooling "Musk is a genius!" puppy dogs do, because if they knew anything at all - they don't - they'd see through this thermodynamic ponzi scheme built on irrational fantasy.

This is a thermodynamic nightmare, as the figures for air pollution in China demonstrate, as cited in the scientific paper I linked above about China's hundred million electric powered vehicles.

As for what is and is not popular, one of the many logical fallacies employed by people who don't think, speak, or write clearly it but instead utilize logical fallacies in what they intend to pass as "thought" is the logical fallacy known as the Bandwagon Fallacy.

This a very morally dubious claim that what is popular is also right.

If the bandwagon fallacy were valid, it would be true that every politician who won an election is competent, wise, honest, and ethical. Most people, beyond the lowest level of simpleton understand that this is decidedly not true.

Now, as for your "guess" that "not everyone shares the" (putative) "vision" you arbitrarily assign to me, I couldn't care less. I didn't spend the last 30 years of my life buried in the primary scientific literature to get bourgeois buggers to praise me. Hardly. I did it to find out what is right, and having developed such a sense, I have little patience for people who engage in the worship of trivialities and want to offer their uninformed criticism of what I've spent years studying.

I'm not about to apologize for stating that nuclear energy is the last best hope of the human race. I can easily defend - at least to anyone with a modicum of technical insight - that this is quite true, although other scientists have done it equally well or better. Here, for example, is a case of one of the world's premier climate scientists doing it extremely well:

Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power (Pushker A. Kharecha and James E. Hansen Environ. Sci. Technol., 2013, 47 (9), pp 48894895)

I understand energy. Elon Musk and the people in his cult clearly don't.

Enjoy the coming work week.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #7)

Mon Nov 27, 2017, 09:20 PM

8. Oh I got your point. It's quite clear.

Anyone who drives a car is an asshole. Anyone who engages in consumer society is an asshole. Anyone who thinks that wind and solar power are beneficial is both a dumbass and an asshole. Anyone who doesn't live in a yurt is an asshole.

There seems to be a tendency among smug ivory-tower ignoramuses to not offer any reasonable or realistic plans to improve the lot of society. And much to their dismay, Musk is building a better mousetrap -- but instead of rising to the challenge, they blather on about the second law of thermodynamics like a college sophomore while no doubt dreaming of a cold fusion breakthrough.

So I hope they tie their laces up tightly as they rollerskate to the local swap meet. Every little bit counts in reducing one's personal carbon footprint, after all.

Have a nice day.

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Response to Zorro (Reply #8)

Tue Nov 28, 2017, 09:22 AM

9. Exactly. I'm always surprised when bourgeois...

...mindless Musk worshipping fools read my admittedly radical views on energy correctly, but this isn't a bad summary.

The place for radical ideas is to address radical problems.

Climate change is possibly the most radical problem ever faced by humanity, and I have little patience with people who worship cheap crony capitalists who just don't get it and worse, seek to define what is and is not "practical."

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Response to NNadir (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 26, 2017, 01:23 PM

5. There's always a fascination

with the techie types that manage to become famous, despite their geekiness. That even happened to Edison, although at a certain point, he was out of good ideas. His scheme to run the world on DC current fell flat in the face of a more efficient system of AC current.

I've seen this happen in my lifetime with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, but the public keeps hoping for a tech savior that will emerge to solve all of our problems. If a scientifically-minded person comes up with three or four really good ideas in a limited time span, they've exceeded the output of many of their fellow techies, but it doesn't automatically make them a genius, no matter how much the media will feed that image to an adoring public.

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Sat Nov 25, 2017, 08:42 PM

2. Elon Musk: Just another future victim of catastrophic climate change.

All these cornucopian visions of the future seem to depend on ignoring the reality that we are on a slippery slope of climate catastrophe and ecosystem collapse.

No "Star Trek future" for the human race, I'm afraid. We're headed for Blade Runner at best, and Earth Abides at second best. Don't even ask what the worst case scenario is, but rest assured it has nothing to do with A.I. destroying mankind. Mankind is doing a fine job of that already.

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Wed Nov 29, 2017, 04:01 PM

10. He is an architect of the coming post-democratic dystopia

Like the other tech behemoths (google, apple, etc.) Musk answers to no-one, and does whatever he wants, because he's uber-rich, and can do what he wants in the new post-regulatory, lawless America.

He is now apparently building tunnels under LA to meet the high-speed, high-security transportation needs of the uber rich of the future. And there isn't a regulator or a citizen in sight to ask about things like, what will be the social impact of this, and does it serve the public interest, etc?

Who cares, let's just harness the magic of his billions and see what happens. Yee haw!

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