Sunday, June 12, 2016

E.M.

Saturday night we got together at Jonathan and Vicky's to celebrate all the family June birthdays over a barbecue, some wine, beer, burgers, grilled chicken, snacks and deserts. The weather cooperated and even after the sun set, the air was warm, humid, and fragrant.

As often happens, the boys gathered on the back porch huddled around the grill as Jonathan performed that ritual guys do of charring all the delicious savory things in sight. The girls were in the living room in a circle around the coffee table. Heaven only knows what the gals were chatting about.

We were discussing important stuff, like the course of human events, global warming, the globalization of culture, the spread of gun culture, and the pitifully thin veneer that passes for modern civilization.

Among the topics that led to heated debate, and passionate differences of opinion, was one Elon Musk. Say what you will about him, he seems wickedly smart, and amazingly successful at things that have in the past defied commercial success, like space exploration, and electric cars. Is he a genius? Is he merely a flash in the pan, destined to be forgotten, or is he among the precious few destined to make his mark on mankind, leaving the world immeasurably better than he found it?

The debate was intense. For some reason, none of us resorted to our smart phones to bolster our arguments, to prove the wilder assertions categorically, wikipedially fanciful, and totally without basis in fact. And so the ebb and flow of the discussion was typical for a beer and wine-fueled grill debate.

Eventually, it struck me. What the hell kind of name is Elon? And what about Musk? Elon Musk? Without the benefit of Google, no one was able to contribute in a suitably boisterous semi-uninformed way, and that thread of conversation petered out, quickly replaced by the pros and cons of whether Mr. Musk had been the first to land a rocket back on terra firma. "Yes he was!!" "No way, it was what's his face!!" What fun.

Eventually, as these things always seem to run, the food was basically ready, and the great divide mended as the women folk began to beg for food, and the men ran low on beer and stuff to grill. We all gathered in the living room, the testosterone and estrogen joined forces, and we shared the fruits of the separate discussions and debates.

As the highlights were reviewed, the topic of Elon Musk was trotted out.

Susan, my better half, weighed in on the mystery of the wunderkind's origin. "Elon Musk... sounds like a character out of the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I bet he's an alien stranded on earth, and he's just trying to get home, like E.T."

Karl and I immediately caught each other's attention from across the room. What a revelation! "Yes that's it!!" Karl said. "That definitely explains it all! The crazy focus on all those technologies, the battery powered machines, re-usable space vehicles, the hyperloop, the impossible overly aggressive R&D timetables, the surprisingly good results in all those improbable projects, the weird name, all of it!!!"

Elon Musk is E.T. (or E.M.)

Remember, you read it here.

8 comments:

  1. I'll remember that. Thank you for solving one of the mysteries of modern times. It may be time for you to tackle U.S. politics. Though it may take more than one or two evenings.

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    1. You're most welcome Richard. Although in truth it was Susan. And she isn't even a science fiction fan. It really kind of makes sense.

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  2. Funny that your grilling topic turned to Elon Musk. A friend of ours stopped here on Wednesday after driving his Model S Tesla from upstate NY across the country to CA and then back via FL before heading home again. He stopped every 200 or so miles for a "quick charge". Not a drop of oil or gas the entire trip! We went out for a ride one evening but for my money, I still like seeing the driver do more of the steering than the computer. It was impressive but I've seen computer crashes that required a reboot! I guess I am getting old. Fast doesn't describe the power we felt as it was demonstrated on a quick 0 - 60. Musk, he maybe the next Thomas Edison but only time will tell. For now, I'll continue to enjoy my Vespa for smile rides.

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    1. Around the USA with a Tesla, now that must have been an adventure. Any idea how long those quick charges were? Were they at Tesla sites, 220V sites, or just plain old 110V?

      I test drove a Lexus and didn't like it because the steering was drive by wire. Felt like there was a computer between me and the front wheels (which of course there was). People rave about the Tesla experience though.

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  3. Elon Musk is from South Africa. I am assuming he has Dutch / Boer ancestry. Engineering degree from Queen's here in Canada. He may hold Canadian citizenship as well, but I'm not sure.

    In any case, he is one of those fellows who won't accept the "It can't be done!" mantra.

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    1. Thanks Ed. I think he does have Canadian citizenship via his mother who is from Saskatchewan.

      His ties to various spots around the world make the alien hypothesis somewhat more likely. It might easily be the way and alien might craft an ID, not realizing that the mix of origins might look a little fictional and improbable.

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  4. Now I have to look up Elon Musk. And I was so looking forward to some mindless TV tonight.

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    1. Oh David that's so funny! I suspect you're joking.

      On the other hand, I totally believe that you are so buried in resuscitating that old Honda that you could have managed to miss the buzz around Elon Musk.

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