a rickety bridge of impossible crossing

reality distortion fields, dumb and very dumb

Last week, Elon Musk got a lot of attention for buying 10% of Twitter. Now he's decided that's not enough, and he wants it all. He's offering to buy twitter for $43 billion. From his SEC filing:

I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.

However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.

As a result, I am offering to buy 100% of Twitter for $54.20 per share in cash, a 54% premium over the day before I began investing in Twitter and a 38% premium over the day before my investment was publicly announced. My offer is my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder.

Here's a few things more important to a functioning democracy than Elon Musk controlling twitter: housing, infrastructure, education, food security, healthcare, climate change mitigation... Any of these would be a better use of $43B. Heck, some estimates put the total cost of ending homelessness in the US at around $40 billion! (some controversy around that number, but even if you couldn't house everyone, I'm sure the hundreds of thousands of people you could house would appreciate it)

But on the other hand, 54.20 a share!! It has the weed number in it! lol

From the New York Times:

For years, Mr. Musk has tried to dispel the notion that he is not a co-founder of the company even though he was not part of Tesla at its incorporation in 2003 and became involved with the company only by investing in it the next year. In 2009, Tesla’s first chief executive, Martin Eberhard, settled a lawsuit with Tesla and stipulated there were five co-founders of the company, including Mr. Musk. “A false narrative has been created by one of the other co-founders, Martin Eberhard, and I don’t want to get into the nastiness here, but I didn’t invest in an existing company,” Mr. Musk said at TED. “We created a company.”

This should tell you everything you need to know about Musk's commitment to "the truth" and "free speech". Paying a lot of money so you can be called the founder of a company you didn't found doesn't mean you founded it. No amount of money will ever change this fact. Musk's commitment to the truth is based in his heartfelt belief that the truth should be whatever the richest person in the world decides it is. His motive for buying twitter is so blatantly a desire to have the world's biggest and most influential propaganda machine, and I don't get how anyone could be dumb enough to fall for it. He's not some machiavellian puppetmaster deftly manipulating a naive public, he's Trump without the boomer baggage

In a nearly hourlong interview, Mr. Musk publicly displayed what some have called his “reality distortion field,” a “Star Trek”-inspired term used to describe how successful business leaders like Apple’s Steve Jobs were able to convince workers that seemingly impossible visions could be realized. At Tesla and SpaceX, Mr. Musk’s reality distortion field has been lionized as a major reason his companies have succeeded in mainstreaming electric vehicles and privatizing space launches.

Not as important, but I thought it was worth pointing out the irony of talking about Musk's RDF, then uncritically stating two pretty dubious claims about Musk's success. Has Tesla succeeded in mainstreaming electric vehicles?

via Reuters:

Less than 1% of the 250 million cars, SUVs and light-duty trucks on the road in the United States are electric.

The stats for the world are a bit higher, with the fastest EV adoption rate in China. How much of that is Tesla? From Fortune:

Wuling Mini EV—a brand little known outside China that’s the product of a joint venture between General Motors and the Shanghai-based SAIC Motor—was one of the bestselling cars in China last year. The tiny, no-frills, three-door electric vehicle retails for roughly $4,500 and is nearly the same size as a Smart car, which was designed to be as long as a regular car is wide, so that drivers can park perpendicular to the curb. Wuling Mini sold 378,000 units last year—far more than Tesla’s China sales—but because the simplistic car is in a different consumer segment, the model is often overlooked in sales rankings.

Ah, that doesn't count because it's not a real car. This must be one of the truths Musk wants to make sure everyone knows. A Tesla is an electric car, a Wuling Mini isn't. Relatively poor people can afford it, so it must be something else. Thank god for free speech

Anyway, electric cars are less 1% of the market in the US and less than 5% globally. Tesla is a relatively large part of a very, very small market, and phrasing this as "his companies have succeeded in mainstreaming electric vehicles" is, dare I say it, a bit of a distortion of reality

Also this is all ignoring the fact that Tesla cars are bad, and if you want electric cars to become mainstream, maybe it's not a good thing if one of the most popular ones sucks. I don't think that's going to help convince people they should get an electric car

As for SpaceX, privatizing space launches is bad. It is a bad thing. With a private company it's hard to tell if they're even "succeeding" if your sole metric for success is making money, but they're definitely not succeeding at making the world better. Musk is a very dumb egomaniacal clown who's failed upwards over and over, and now he wants full control over a massive propaganda platform to make sure everyone knows his version of the truth (i.e. the one that doesn't make him sad.) But it's okay, because he totally said the weed number, lol, he's just like us! 🦝