Issue 55

Insanity or genius?

Delivered on 26 November 2019 by Justin Pyvis. About a 4 min read.

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 as the majors get their acts together.

I certainly wouldn't be buying a Tesla.

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:

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