Issue 55

Insanity or genius?

I don't know what everyone's favourite eccentric billionaire, Elon Musk, has been smoking (or do I), but Tesla's latest "innovation" really is something else. Meet the "Cybertruck":

This is not a joke. I repeat, this is not a joke. The image above is Elon Musk standing next to the Tesla  Cybertruck, after a demonstration of the patented "armour glass" failed  when hit with a softly thrown metal ball.

As for the design, it's almost as if a child whipped it up in MS Paint:

The  Cybertruck has to be just about the ugliest vehicle ever conceived,  perhaps with one exception: Homer Simpson's... Homertruck?

In  all seriousness, Tesla is once again in the headlines. If that was the  goal then bravo Elon Musk, you sure know how to get people riled up  about a product. But I think the Cybertruck is just too much. Sure, Tesla might have nearly 200,000 pre-orders already but Musk conveniently omitted the fact that all you need to do to get  on the list is put down $100. Oh and it's fully refundable if you change  your mind, too.

As it turned out, the Cybertruck launch  topped off a particularly bad week for Elon Musk (note that Tesla's  share price immediately fell ~6%), after a SpaceX prototype for his  planned human-rated Starship rocket blew up during a pressurisation test.

Marketing  gimmicks aside, something has to be rotten at multiple levels if  something as grotesque as the Cybertruck managed to get past the early  development phase, let alone become an actual product. To make matters  worse for Tesla, the electric vehicle market will seriously heat up in 2020 as the majors get their acts together.

I certainly wouldn't be buying a Tesla.

Enjoy the rest of this week's issue. Cheers,

— Justin

The bits

Another let-off for Huawei

Sanctioning  Huawei was never actually about Huawei. The Chinese company was never  anything but a convenient scapegoat. Wrong place, wrong time. When it  comes to Xinjiang however... silence.

Closer to home, tech manufacturing has not returned to the United States. That 'new' Apple factory was just some  clever lobbying by Tim Cook to score Apple a partial exemption from  Trump's ridiculous trade war.

Learn more:

The regulated will write the regulations

Choosing  not to believe that Big Tech will shape its own privacy regulations is  choosing to ignore the huge volume of public choice / regulatory capture  literature. Google and Facebook will write their own regulations,  ceding ground where necessary with the goal of entrenching themselves as  monopolists, i.e. preventing smaller competitors (both existing and  potential) from being able to comply.

Learn more:

Governments don't like privacy

Building  on the above, governments are more than happy for Big Tech to regulate  themselves into monopoly privilege, provided they agree to clauses that  assist governments to undermine the implementation of encryption on  consumer-grade products. All in the name of stopping "predators". Think  of the children!

Learn more:

Sacha Baron Cohen on social media

I  was going to throw this into the other bits but it's worth commenting  on because the mainstream media seem to be frothing over it. It was an  impassioned speech by Cohen, as you might expect from a well-known  actor, but his argument was weak and shows just how wrong you can go  when you start with a false premise. He offers up a lot of 'solutions'  to the social media 'problem', with these the clearest:

"Maybe  it’s time to tell Mark Zuckerberg and the CEOs of these companies: you  already allowed one foreign power to interfere in our elections, you  already facilitated one genocide in Myanmar, do it again and you go to  jail...

It only seems fair to say to Facebook, YouTube and  Twitter: your product is defective, you are obliged to fix it, no matter  how much it costs and no matter how many moderators you need to  employ...

It’s time to finally call these companies what they  really are—the largest publishers in history. And here’s an idea for  them: abide by basic standards and practices just like newspapers,  magazines and TV news do every day."

He wants social media companies to be regulated as publishers, not platforms. This is not a new idea. It's also a terrible idea.

Learn more:

Other bits of interest

Image of the week

There are so many awesome memes using the new "Cybertruck". There's even a subreddit.

This week's data breaches

Never use your "master" password on a website. It will be compromised. Use a password manager instead.

The breaches:

That's all for now. If you enjoyed this issue, feel free to share it via email

Issue 55: Insanity or genius? was compiled by Justin Pyvis and delivered on 26 November 2019. Join the conversation on the fediverse at