Re: The Big Unsort

1

I thought Peter Thiel (and the PayPal mafia) was the face of the conservative wing of Silicon valley.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 7:36 AM
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Not that this isn't newsworthy, but why exactly did Elon Musk become the object of daily national news updates? What vacuum is he suddenly filling?

I'm not 100% in favor of Silicon Valley becoming more of an ideological political battleground than it is already. A hard shift away from ideology and into reality... Well, that would be great everywhere, and a robot pony.


Posted by: Lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 8:06 AM
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I don't think of him as someone who gets frequent national updates! But I also didn't realize he was a Republican mega-donor.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 8:16 AM
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4

What should have tipped us off about Musk is when he bought that skull-shaped island.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 8:19 AM
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5

Yeah, maybe we need a third opinion on how national the news coverage is. I haven't left this coast for a couple of months.

I just dug up this line from an email from October 2016: "in a comic book about Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, in which they do something more interesting than co-founding PayPal, it would of course turn out that Musk was the far more dangerous and evil supervillain and Thiel, for all his bluster, was relatively powerless and easily dispatched."


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 8:33 AM
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6

||

Brezhnev was plagued by illness, and even when healthy and sober he avoided dealing with economic questions.
And who could blame him?
|>


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 8:46 AM
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I think Musk gets disproportionate attention because he's active on Twitter and people feel like he's more movable or shameable than, say, Bezos.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 9:36 AM
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8

6: Musk comic.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 9:37 AM
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9

I bet Brezhnev never even once wanted to replace the Metro with Volgas on rocket sleds.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 9:46 AM
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10

What has he done? I've been away from the news...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 9:57 AM
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11

He asphyxiated a starving orphan with a flying sandwich robot.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 10:05 AM
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12

https://www.salon.com/2018/07/14/elon-musk-revealed-as-one-of-the-largest-donors-for-a-house-republican-pac/


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 10:16 AM
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13

I saw this and was like "didn't people know Elon Musk gave money to both parties like basically every other corporate asshole." But I guess they didn't and he does make electric cars so it's mildly shocking? I mean when will the fucking naivete about silicon valley end? What are we, 30 years into it now? So always already fucking stupid, don't be evil my asshole. Still grateful that corporate assholes in Silicon Valley are on net bigger donors to Democrats.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 10:26 AM
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14

8. Hadn't noticed SFAM is back. That's good.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 10:50 AM
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15

Based on the link in 12, I wouldn't call him a "mega-donor. "


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 10:55 AM
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16

Right, he's not an ideologically-driven asshole, he's just a standard-issue asshole who donates on both sides of the aisle because he's in a business that relies fairly heavily on government policy.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 10:57 AM
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17

Did everyone see where Musk called the expert British caver who was instrumental to the whole rescue a pedophile?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 10:59 AM
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18

Wait? No. What?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 11:00 AM
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19

This is probably a kerfuffle more recent than the post, but now he's repeatedly calling a pedophile the British diver in Thailand who commented he made no contribution to the rescue effort.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 11:00 AM
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20

Honestly, you've got to love kids a lot to get them out of a goddamn flooded cave.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 11:01 AM
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21

Since Musk gives equally to both sides, his political contributions have no impact on left vs. right outcomes and can be thought of as business expenses. Therefore they deserve exactly as much criticism as making no contributions at all.


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 11:01 AM
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22

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1018497953051258880


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 11:02 AM
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23

There's another post where he doubles down. I hope he gets his ass sued off.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 11:03 AM
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24

I think the thing that's unique about him is he reads and responds to any slight from every nobody on Twitter. I can't imagine how he has time to do that, maybe he has well trained assistants or robots who can emulate his whiny and oversensitive online persona.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 11:09 AM
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25

Is it really unique though? Ours is the age of the thin-skinned billionaire.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 11:11 AM
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26

It would be so wonderful if it turned out that whiny and oversensitive online personas* were bots, and not just revelations of what humans are like when they stop being polite and start being real.

*I include myself here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 11:13 AM
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27

Certainly other billionaires have online fights but usually with journalists or other well known people. I see Musk responding to people who don't appear to be anything other than random people who insulted him. Someone with more time could do an analysis of the average number of followers of the people who billionaires respond to.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 11:22 AM
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22: Yeah, I was more struck by Musk's magnanimous offer to provide an AWESOME mini-sub to rescue the trapped Thai boys than I was about the Republican donor thing. The British rescue diver said something like, "Nothing but a PR stunt. He can shove his tiny sub up his ass."

Heh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 11:37 AM
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29

Unless the sub has a flared base, that seems risky.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 11:49 AM
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30

Maybe that's the point. So to speak.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 11:57 AM
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31

This episode of The Magic Schoolbus is getting icky.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 11:58 AM
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32

It was the custom when men received nominations to come to me for contributions, and I made them and considered them good paying investments for the company. In a Republican district I was a strong Republican; in a Democratic district I was Democratic, and in doubtful districts I was doubtful.


Posted by: Jay Gould | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 12:10 PM
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33

In purple states, the submarine is sideways.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 12:14 PM
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34

Here it is:

https://twitter.com/maxwelltani/status/1018517885080211456


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 12:19 PM
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35

He also more or less accused the British diver of making the whole thing up and/or not having been there at all. (in the tweet in 22).

And then he announced that he would fix Flint's water, by putting new water filters in all of the houses.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 12:39 PM
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36

"you could literally have swum to Cave 5 with no gear, which is obv how the kids got in" he says, apparently unaware of either the rain or the pumping or the fact that the boys couldn't swim or anything else that had occurred before he arrived on the scene


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 12:41 PM
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37

the competition for Worst Human is so fierce these days


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 12:45 PM
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38

Silly person says silly thing on Twitter. Other people angry.
Another Guardian exclusive...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 12:58 PM
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39

Yeah, playing the stranded Thai soccer team for PR was lame, but don't you guys remember the time he launched a car into space?

Now there is a car... IN SPACE!!!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 1:12 PM
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40

but don't you guys remember the time he launched a car into space?

Lame. If he was really hard core he would have launched a submarine into space.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 1:17 PM
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41

if you tweet that at him he probably will


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 1:19 PM
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42

When I was a kid NASA shot a car into space. And landed it on the moon. And then a couple of astronauts took it for a spin. On the fucking moon. Elon Musk is a punk ass bitch.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 1:21 PM
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43

That can't be true because ain't no one been to the moon in my lifetime.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 1:24 PM
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44

38: But I will give mad props to this guy's tweet:

ironically Elon is demonstrating that actually the world's most efficient hole-digging machine is Twitter


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 1:30 PM
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45

26: I feel I have a pretty good handle on this one: we do it to ourselves. There's no need for costly automation when people can mute relevant parts of their brains this reliably and efficiently. Or maybe that's just a happy story I tell myself.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 1:31 PM
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46

37: yes, I had not been following the news from Nicaragua until this very moment. Holy shit.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 2:06 PM
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47

I think the thing that's unique about him is he reads and responds to any slight from every nobody on Twitter.

It's not just on Twitter. Tesla's most recent earnings call was pretty extraordinary in terms of him reacting childishly to pretty mild questioning about production targets and costs.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 2:14 PM
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48

And now I presume NASA has to track it as one of the tens of thousands of pieces of space junk that might collide with a satellite.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 2:18 PM
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49

The trunk was full of used batteries and rigged to open once in orbit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 2:20 PM
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50

42: and then they gave up and came home and destroyed the blueprints and jigs for the Saturn V so no one would ever be able to build one again. And now they say they wouldn't be able to get back to the moon before the 2030s if they tried which puts them at the equivalent of, what, 1951 right now?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 2:21 PM
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51

Anyway, I also have a sense that we are approaching either peak shittiness or the collapse of social order.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 2:22 PM
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52

"And now I presume NASA has to track it as one of the tens of thousands of pieces of space junk that might collide with a satellite."

It's in circumsolar orbit between 0.9 and 1.7 AU. Obviously space debris isn't really a concern!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 2:25 PM
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53

21: No.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 2:41 PM
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54

It's an interesting question that's popped up on TOP whether, his assholish ventures aside, he deserves some level of societal kudos, however small, from driving the electric-car industry forward with Tesla. (See Sierra Club.)

I'm inclined to think no, because all he's done is gambled that fuel prices and technology are reaching the point that he can make this enterprise pay off for him personally. (And it is a gamble.)

Climate change needs to be solved with collective action, because externalities are so severe private enterprise is inevitably going to fall far short, unless its incentives are forcibly realigned, and he plays no role in any such collective action; indeed he actively forestalls it.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 3:13 PM
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55

That's stupid. The only way that collective action matters is in creating incentives to produce fewer emissions. Tesla helps with that. Is that the most important thing in the world? No. Does he deserve credit for that? Of course. Does that mean he's not a corporate jerk and should be lionized as a superhuman? Of course not. But the idea that there's some kind of active hindrance of collective action on climate change put up by him is fucking moronic.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 3:19 PM
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56

"Oh no, people are profiting by doing things that are environmentally friendly" says no one who understands how climate change could ever possibly be solved.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 3:20 PM
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57

To be clear, he's not hindering the cause by running Tesla - yes, he's reacting to incentives which is just fine*, but by supporting Republicans. I don't think equal money to Democrats is exculpating.

* Modulo labor abuse, etc., which is out of scope for this purpose.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 3:31 PM
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58

Running Tesla is, I think, morally neutral at best - acting as a cog in a machine of improvement.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 3:32 PM
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59

Equal money to reps and dems basically means paying Danegeld to the establishment. This is often the correct choice, but is also corrosive to whatever remains of deliberative democracy.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 3:50 PM
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60

56: 'profiting' and Tesla, for the foreseeable future, is a very optimistic word combo, at least as far as the corporation goes.


Posted by: Montissimoo | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 3:50 PM
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61

54: "Just months away from total collapse" seems pretty normal for a highly leveraged corporation, no? And Tesla isn't even leveraged yet. More worrying for Tesla's prospects is Musk's public meltdown.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 3:51 PM
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62

There's always been an overt Republican arm in Silicon Valley. See: George Gilder


Posted by: Typhoon Jim | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 3:58 PM
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63

I hope he gets his ass sued off.

The guy he called a "pedo" isn't a public figure as near as I can tell. Wouldn't that be slander? But I don't know if U.S. law would apply. Anyway, none of the news coverage seems to say, but I'd think he should sue also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 6:45 PM
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64

The coverage says Musk deleted the tweets, which suggests either a conscience or a lawyer. My guess is the second.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 6:47 PM
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65

OT: I appreciate the commitment to life imitating art. Or at least detective fiction.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 6:59 PM
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66

||

Not all of this censorship was particularly sophisticated. Once, a censor prohibited Zaslavskaya from publishing data on dissatisfaction, but assented when she asked "could we please publish instead a table showing percentages of respondents who are satisfied."
|>


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 8:23 PM
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67

And Tesla isn't even leveraged yet.

Doesn't exactly count as leverage, but an article I read in one of the business news sites (can't remember which one) pointed out a huge amount of money is apparently tied up in the form of refundable deposits. They didn't get into whether that means Tesla could get a bank run type of situation.

I've wondered how much of Musk's personal fortune he'd be willing to put in to save the company if things went really bad. I haven't been paying much attention to the financial side of Tesla, so I have no idea how much he's spent on it himself already, or even what he's worth.

Meanwhile, I hear there's another billionaire out there bankrolling libel suits. Maybe they don't get along?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 8:35 PM
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68

Don't call him a billionaire, that's so rude


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 9:22 PM
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69

"man of a billion airs"


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-15-18 10:22 PM
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70

And Tesla isn't even leveraged yet.

Huh? It has $10bn of debt (which was trading at a material discount last I looked). About a quarter of that is non-recourse, admittedly, but that's still a lot of leverage.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 12:32 AM
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71

68. His exact quote on that was pretty amazing:

Ironically, the "billionaire" label, when used by media, is almost always meant to devalue & denigrate the subject. I wasn't called that until my companies got to a certain size, but reality is that I still do the same science & engineering as before. Just the scale has changed.

His evidence for the pedo thing was that the guy is a British expat in Thailand. No one ever moves to Thailand because it's cheap, sunny, and for the culture.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 6:01 AM
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72

Or the sexy hetero adults.


Posted by: Opinionated Anna Leonowens | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 6:07 AM
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73

"Get lost. You're talking to a tourist whose every move is among the purest."


Posted by: Opinionated Murray Head | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 6:18 AM
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74

72. My BiL moved to Thailand for a while, got a job in a bar and married the owner's daughter. They were much of an age.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 6:31 AM
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75

much of an age

Is that an idiom for of a similar age to each other? Or for, both on the older side? Googling '"much of an age" -difference -gap' gets me 9 hits.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 8:01 AM
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76

I took it to mean they both remembered Elvis before he was dead or bloated.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 8:05 AM
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77

75: Yes, exactly -- "much of an age" is "about the same age". It's not age specific, I don't think: e.g., "much of a height" would also be "about the same height".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 8:24 AM
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78

The time between Elvis's death and today is now double that between when he was drafted and his death.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 8:25 AM
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79

(I tried to make that work from the date of his first single, but that won't be the case for another 5 years.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 8:27 AM
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80

Elvis was single until 1967.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 8:29 AM
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81

And you can't really blame Priscilla for marrying him; he hadn't even written "In the Ghetto" yet.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 8:43 AM
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82

I think she was like 14 when he started trying to date her, which is much of an age in the geological sense only.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 8:58 AM
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83

70: I was thinking tiny debt relative to valuation, but on reflection that's silly because its valuation is mostly based on projected growth.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 9:06 AM
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84

Also, Elvis isn't really dead.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 9:06 AM
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85

The unsecured debt is rated Caa1, which is about as risky as you can get without being at imminent risk of insolvency, and very much in line with the riskier end of the LBO spectrum. Tesla does (or did before the recent production crunch) have a fair amount of cash on hand, which will reduce the effective leverage, but by any reasonable measure (EBITDA, free cashflow, tangible assets) it's highly levered. On the other hand, its valuation means that it can probably if it wants to just sell some more shares to pay off the debt as it comes due. Though I suspect its valuation might not be as high if it actually needed to do that.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 9:44 AM
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I think he deserves props for creating a company that does something besides sell ads or surveillance state hardware or oil. He insults random people? That isn't much of a knock. Really, I think one of the problems with GOP is they are so in thrall to their insane ideology they no longer can be bought off by sane companies.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07-16-18 11:27 AM
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Posted by: Webb | Link to this comment | 08-24-21 6:13 AM
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