“I was surprised by Elon Musk’s appearance on SNL,” I wrote a few days ago on Facebook and Twitter. “I knew, whatever you think of him it’s true, he was a genius but he was funny and endearing, i.e. talking about having Aspergers. Totally humanized himself, which he admitted is hard to do. His mother though? Watch it before trashing me.”
Of course, most people didn’t watch it before trashing me (as far as I can tell), and immediately denounced the post because of a reflexive hatred of Musk. “He’s no genius,” one person wrote. “He’s an entitled huckster.”
Another person, who clearly watched Musk’s monologue wrote, and this is legitimate criticism, “When he spoke all I could hear was ‘Some people didn’t know what to expect from me hosting SNL tonight, but I’m just a normal, awkward guy who occasionally tweets in support of US-backed fascist coups in South American nations whose natural resources would greatly enrich my hundred-billion dollar corporation. And sure I bust unions like any other blood sucking capitalist, but I like space and video games too. Anyway, here’s my lovely mother, who raised me in apartheid South Africa with the financial help of my father’s emerald mine in neo-colonial Zambia. Happy Mother’s Day mom, we’re very normal and relatable people. I’m also not a robot, on Saturday Night Live!’.”
There was also a lot of smart, nuanced commentary from people who are able to see the world in gray, and not merely black and white. Sadly, such people are increasingly uncommon nowadays. Too many people, especially on social media, just cannot get over themselves and refuse to accept anything that doesn’t jibe with their version of reality.
Three of the many especially interesting remarks follow:
Theodore Papathanasis: Genius is easy. You’re born that way, or you’re not. But there are things for which there are no inborn talents. Chief among them are ethics, a learned and perishable skill.
Ron Leighton: The questions, I think, are how much reward and esteem should accrue to such a genius? and how little accrues to geniuses whose outlook does not align with the going order? I agree he is a human being. We tend to pretend that our (class, or other) enemies are monsters and somehow not human. Human monsters arguably exist, but they are extremely rare.
“It’s possible to be a genius and an abusive jackass — working title of my divorce tell all. lol,” wrote a friend who asked to remain unidentified for obvious reasons.
Let me expand on why I think Musk is a genius, though that’s pretty obvious to all but the most ignorant observers. Here I’m quoting directly from a former government official who asked to remain unidentified, but whose opinions I highly value. He said:
Musk is a once in a century man, he’s the Howard Hughes of today. His intelligence is unrestrained by normal thinking. His brain works in a different way, it’s operating on high all the time. He doesn’t see limitations, he sees problems and opportunities.
That’s why he had to start his own company, he can’t work within the system. When he took on NASA, they thought he was a quack, that he would fail. They are stuck in old thinking. After World War II, NASA had Werner von Braun designing rockets in its facilities and its system. [Von Braun, seen below, worked for Hitler’s regime. The CIA brought him to the US, along with many other Nazi or Nazi-sympathizing scientists, in Operation Paperclip.]
Musk doesn’t work that way. In December 2020, a Space X [Musk’s company] Starship rocket crash-landed, but that wasn’t a failure, he’s testing ways to do things differently. He’s trying to avoid extremely toxic fuel explosions. With the Starship, you’re not really on a rocket. A chemical explosion occurs beneath it and that explosive detonation hurtles it into space. It’s riding on top of that explosive detonation. It’s got an engine per se but it’s not really a rocket.
Look back on the Challenger disaster, which Musk wants to avoid. There was a problem with the O-ring and they fucked up with the weather forecast. It was colder than expected and they had frost. Th frost burned off when it took off but the fuel burned down to a hole in an O-ring. The O-ring gave way and a jet of rocket burning fuel, like a blowtorch, came through the O-ring — that’s the plume you see on the video.
It was a 6000 degree flare of burning fuel and it instantly into the main fuel tank, and ultimately destroyed the Challenger orbiter. We later learned the astronauts didn’t die in the explosion. The suits worked, they died when the hit the water. They drowned. They were ejected from the orbiter and found themselves in the air traveling at Mach 5. Their bodies were in tact but they were seared from the friction [of traveling at Mach 5], not from the fire.
So, Musk is trying something new, he doesn’t see obstacles, he sees opportunities. One of these guys who pops up once a century. People say he’s a dick or a prick, but Elon Musk comes up with all these crazy ideas. He took on the biggest politically charged machine in the US government with NASA, and look what he did. He invented a new rocket technology that is a reusable rocket and can launch it into space. Just as a “Fuck You” to the entire US establishment he launched he sent, what was it, a ’57 Chevy convertible into deep space with a mannequin in it holding the wheel driving it across the universe. If there is intelligent life in the universe [Author’s note: I frequently doubt this] they’re going to say, “Whoever did this, we need to meet these people.”
He does stuff people can’t fathom. The system beats people like that down to dust. They don’t want someone like that who is unrestrained.