Elon Musk and the Kingdom of the Bull

You can call Elon Musk a lot of things. chaos factor. Smart investor. Obsessed workaholic. But tech industry analyst Benedict Evans has a different suggestion. Oh calls Musk has “nonsense delivers”. I’ll go even further: Musk represents a new kind of nonsense, one we haven’t really seen before. Call it Bullion, perhaps: an unusual financier of childish robbery, whose unfathomable fortune makes it possible, and even likely, to carry out even the most ridiculous of plans.

Musk didn’t start an electric car business, but the company he made his way to, Tesla, became one of the most valuable on earth last July. Once in office, he decided “CEO” was a stupid title and made himself “Technoking” instead.. From this throne, Musk neglects to make far fewer cars than Ford, a company that’s 1-16th of that (which Musk has previously compared to the morgue). musk too he is CEO of SpaceX, a private company that has an impressive fleet of reusable rockets that land as upright as they take off, as in an episode of Johnny Quest. His ability to govern such an organization may partly be explained by his Technoking claim He used to be a foreigner. So concerned that super-intelligent machines — another type of alien life, really — might overtake humanity, Musk has set aside millions to defend against their rise.

One day in 2016, Musk was disturbed by traffic. “The traffic is driving me crazy. I will build a tunnel boring machine and start digging,” he tweeted. “It should be called The Boring Company.” This would have been a funny joke if he hadn’t already started a company with that name and entered into contracts to dig tunnels under actual American cities, such as Las Vegas and Miami. Tunnels carry – get this – Tesla vehicles, which create traffic jams when the tunnel fills enough of them (which is really just an expensive road).

The Boring Company also manufactured a flamethrower. And it’s not boring, I think. Musk looks to pay for the underground car tunnel project, recalls the 1987 Mel Brooks movie space balls He threw a joke about financing his production through swag sales, such as lunch boxes and flamethrowers. So he made flamethrowers – hardly legal, because they “only” lit a 10-foot wall of fire. Soon, on Twitter, Mask Refusal “Rumor” that he planned to manufacture, in Uruk-hai style, a zombie apocalypse to spur demand for said flamethrowers. All 20,000 units sold out.

When Musk does things, they tend to start with tweets. In 2018, the same year he made the flamethrowers, Musk tweeted that he “got financing” to buy a Tesla at $420 a share (it’s a bookmark, if you didn’t know). The stock was trading at around $360 at the time, making the doobie-smokin’ price tag a huge bonus. The plan collapsed, the stock plunged 100 points, and the US Securities and Exchange Commission investigated Musk for securities fraud. In the end, he agreed to pay $20 million, and Tesla itself had to pay the same amount. Today, correcting a five-to-one split, TSLA is trading at the equivalent of more than $5,000 per share. The company is worth $1 trillion.

All this wealth inspired more business and more tweets. This year, Musk decided he liked Twitter so much, and wanted to buy 9 percent of Twitter. He did, because it only cost $2 billion, and he has nearly 270 billion of it. The problem is that he was supposed to file a disclosure with the Securities and Exchange Commission once he crossed 5 percent of the company’s equity, and he delayed that for a few days. The stock was up nearly 30 percent when the news broke — which also means that Musk saved a bunch of money by signing up late. Musk was joining the board of directors, and then he wasn’t, and then it emerged this morning that he had offered to buy the entire company for $43 billion in cash (again, a lot of money).

Elon Musk says or does silly and even stupid things, but then these silly and stupid things come to fruition.


Philosopher Harry Frankfurt wrote a popular essay on nonsense in the 1980s, which became a bestseller in 2005 titled on the bullshit. Nonsense and liars are both trying to get away with something. But unlike the liar, who shows awareness and interest in the truth in order to evade it, Frankfurt argues that nonsense-bearers have no interest in the truth at all. Instead, the bullshit pursues their goals, whatever those goals may be. For some of them, it amounts to hearing themselves talk. For others, it involves deception or even fraud.

At first glance, the musky variety looks completely different. He does not seem like a man so indifferent to the truth as one who is passionately devoted to the act of blowing berries. He named the Tesla Models S, 3, X, and Y, which is an infinitesimal translation of Sexual. He made a joke about taking the company private. He joked (maybe?) about renaming Twitter as “Titter” — you know, like boobs?

But his raspberries serve another function: they fill a fleet of pilot balloons that, tied together by his fortune, can lift a house to the sky. Money talks, nonsense floats. This is how Musk turned a stupid gag in a government investigation into a hundred billion dollar payday. It’s how he got all the powerful Twitter users to accept that he was their new master this morning. Musk does not care about the truth because he is controlling it.

Possession of billionaire crap fills a strange array of emotions: dread, jealousy, inspiration, awe, annoyance. Like it or not, Musk really made electric cars viable and desirable. It really helped usher in a new era of private space. He really made pretty bad flamethrowers that he sold them and shipped them off to people who watched a lot ji jo in the eighties.

Musk’s schtick works because he’s the unfathomable extraordinarily wealthy guy who actually spends very large amounts of time and money on random things. Most billionaires are boring. They store wealth and then dump it into a family enterprise for tax benefits and eternal glory, or they pay it off into hedge funds or investment funds. They avoid the spotlight. Some pursue fancy flights, as other billionaire space startups show. Others pursue philanthropy along the lines of Carnegie, clad in strength in the garb of generosity.

But it seems that Musk is on the move. Do Whatever he wants, no matter how stupid. In a world where so much wealth is concentrated in the hands of so few, that stupidity can be a bit of a relief. What would you do if you were that rich? The numbers say: nothing interesting. You will use the money to make more money. At least Musk is having a good time.

But the bullion maker is also terrifying, because you don’t know what he’s going to do next. Anthropologist David Graeber, in his 2018 book on nonsense jobs, argued that work loses meaning when there is a gap between pretend and reality. For most people who have such jobs, the gap appears in the mind of the worker himself. Shopkeepers or telemarketers may know their job is effectively useless or even harmful, but they have to pretend it’s not for the sake of their day, appeasing their boss, and making a living.

In Musk’s case, that concern is being outsourced to all of us. When Musk tweets a joke, it may also be an actual plan that he intends to carry out. He may not even know if that is the case, but his unreasonable wealth and penchant for risk always leave the choice open. A much less wealthy but very peculiar individual like Peter Thiel makes threats and plans in the dark. This is worrying – what is he going to do? The ingot hides directly in the open. This feels worse. (Vladimir Putin, whose fortune is unknown but has been speculated to be in excess of $200 billion, is another different type of bullion — another with more dangerous whims.)

In this sense, Musk introduced a new idea to nonsense, which Harry Frankfurt did not expect. Most nonsense buffs couldn’t bridge the gap between pretend and reality even if they wanted to. Bullshit She meant what was neither right nor wrong. Now it describes a situation in which anything, no matter how absurd, has the extension Ability to be honest. Call your flamethrower man. Buy a social network. It’s not a big deal – unless it is.

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