As an early and enthusiastic supporter of Tesla and it’s products, I have to say the last few weeks have severely shaken my confidence in the company. It would appear that the on-the-spectrum behavioral traits which may have served Elon Musk well in the earlier days of brand building across several platforms, have now become toxic following his hostile take-over of Twitter.

Basically, if you set out to genetically engineer a set of actions and memes designed to target and poison the very heart of Tesla’s brand appeal, you could hardly do better than the mind boggling series of mean-spirited actions, outrages, gaffes and self-owns that Musk has rolled up since taking control of the social media platform, topped off with the latest Ye/Nazi connections.
It’s understood that single-minded company builders and innovators can be prickly, difficult, and even awful people.
I could handle Steve Jobs’ occasionally reported dickish behavior, and OK, Henry Ford was a weird Nazi sympathizer, but that was in the past. What we’re seeing now kind of defies logic in..uh..(checks year) – almost freaking 2023.
Having built a globally recognized brand that spoke to aspirations for a positive technological transition in the near term, Musk has somehow managed to link his name and brand with Trumpism, climate denial, and neo-Nazism in breathtakingly short order.

Bloomberg:

The Twitter chatter of Ford Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley is good vibes only: factory photos, race tracks, corporate boosterism and a lot of retweets of Ford customers gushing about their vehicles. It’s all cars, and it’s all anodyne.

Elon Musk, among Farley’s chief rivals, has taken a decidedly different tack. Since the Tesla CEO also became CEO of Twitter at the end of October, he has dismissed or scared away almost 5,000 Twitter employees (and asked some to return), declared that the social media site may slide into bankruptcyalienated many of its advertisers, botched a product rollout that allowed brand impostors to proliferate on the site, mocked a US senatortold his followers to vote Republican and invited former US President Donald Trump back onto the platform. All the while, he’s tweeted a play-by-play of the saga alongside a steady stream of lewd memes and score-settling burns — many aimed at his new employees.

This belligerent and erratic performance in his new role as “chief Twit” has raised Musk’s already stratospheric public profile to new heights. If Twitter is a global town square, Musk has transitioned overnight from one of its loudest orators to equal parts mayor and sheriff, with the potential to irritate far beyond the echo chamber of his 118 million followers. For owners and potential buyers of Tesla cars, it has become all but impossible to find neutral ground on the controversies that surround Musk.

Tesla’s lead in the EV market is unquestionably strong — particularly in the US, where the carmaker has steadily sold more vehicles over the course of this year. But there are some signs that the lead is starting to slip. Tesla’s share of new US EV sales dipped to 64% in the third quarter from 75% in the year-earlier period, according to estimates from Cox Automotive. 

Part of that can be attributed to more EV options than ever before. US consumers now have about 30 fully electric vehicles to choose from, roughly half of which weren’t on the market 12 months ago. “The competition is getting stiffer,” said Rob Pace, founder and CEO of HundredX, a research shop that uses consumer surveys as a fundraising tool.

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Above, part 2 of a very well done series from KARE in Minneapolis.
In part 1, the station sent a reporter to look at the drought crisis in the southwest (see below) – in the segment above, Minnesotans grapple with actual initiatives to ship midwest water to the parched west.
Turns out the idea is not popular in the Midwest. But it’s going to keep coming up, as folks who have located in climate-compromised areas feel entitled to get bailed out, both financially, and hydrologically, by the rest of us – who have our own problems.

This week’s NOAA Drought Monitor shows that dry conditions extend over much of the lower 48.

Below, I’ve posted the Part 1 video, which is a very well done overview of the Colorado River crisis in the Southwest, and also, a separate examination of proposals to draw Mississippi River water to the west.

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Worthwhile overview from the Financial Times of Big Oil, and it’s long time role in climate denial and greenwashing, and our collective moral quandary about the need for shifting to carbon free energy, while at the same time navigating an energy driven war by Russia, and the resulting energy and humanitarian crisis in Europe and elsewhere.

RIP Christine McVie, but actually I liked the early incarnation of Fleetwood Mac much better than the later ones.
This one is haunting and weird, and had kind of slipped my mind.

And of course, how can we forget “Oh Well..” – below

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Covid taught us over the last few years that having a global supply chain for critical economic and national security inputs like microchips, and yeah, solar panels, is probably not a great idea. China comes to mind, with recent disruptions not only from Covid shut downs, but, over the summer, from record shattering drought, as water supplies disappeared, river transport slowed, cooling water for power plants was compromised, and hydro power became unreliable across the country.

The recently passed Infrastructure Initiative, and Inflation Reduction Act included measures to boost domestic production of those components critical to the energy transition, and we’d be well advised to shift into overdrive on this effort.
Drought is not going away in China.

Phys.org:

The world is not prepared for the potential disruptions to grain trade patterns and key industrial materials production that water shortages could cause, argue authors Gabe Collins, the Baker Botts Fellow in Energy and Environmental Affairs at the Baker Institute, and Gopal Reddy, founder of Ready for Climate and Chakra Capital Partners. They say the U.S. must take urgent action to decouple its most critical supply chains from China as quickly and comprehensively as possible.

“Policy discussions of China-driven risks so far have mostly centered on the nation’s slowing growth, real estate bubbles, high debt and potential military conflict over Taiwan,” Collins and Reddy wrote. “These factors are significant, but China’s incipient water crisis, which receives far less attention from policymakers, could plausibly overwhelm such issues. An unsettling question emerges: What happens if China suffers a multiyear water crisis that significantly reduces its grain production and electricity supplies?”

Despite the Chinese government’s efforts to increase water availability, the country still faces a supply gap that some scholars estimate could reach 25% by 2030. Billions of people worldwide would be affected in ways worse and potentially longer-lasting than the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, according to the report.

Water is critical not only for human consumption, but also for agricultural irrigation and electricity generation—especially that derived from coal, which accounts for about 60% of China’s output. As the “factory floor of the world,” any disruptions would impact global supply chains, the authors argue.

“Other countries have proven it is possible to manage demand and incentivize efficiency by raising the cost of water,” they wrote. “But this will be a tough sell in China given that the global competitiveness of so much of its industrial model is predicated upon purposely depressed input costs, including both energy (coal) and water.”

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Washington Post:

On the first day of classes at North Little Rock High, a crew-cut sophomore named Jerral Wayne Jones found his spot among a phalanx of White boys who stood at the front entrance and blocked the path of six Black students attempting to desegregate the school.

In a photograph taken at the scene, Jones could be seen standing a few yards from where the six Black students were being jostled and repelled with snarling racial slurs by ringleaders of the mob. At one point, a Black student named Richard Lindsey recalled, someone in the crowd put a hand on the back of his neck. A voice behind him said, “I want to see how a nigger feels.” The ruffian hostility succeeded in turning away the would-be new enrollees.

The confrontation occurred 65 years ago, on Sept. 9, 1957, during the same month that a higher-profile integration effort was taking place at Little Rock Central High in the capital city a few miles away. The story of the Little Rock Nine, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower dispatched federal troops to escort the trailblazing Black students past the spitting hordes, is regarded as a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. It overshadowed the ugly events unfolding contemporaneously at Jones’s high school on the other side of the Arkansas River — an episode mostly lost to history, though not entirely.

That leads to the issues of race and power and the plight of Black coaches in a game in which a preponderance of players are Black yet there are only three Black full-time head coaches. If the NFL is to improve its woeful record on the hiring, promotion and nourishment of Black coaches, Jones could lead the way.

His record in key appointments has been deficient. In his 33 years as owner, Jones has had eight head coaches, all White. During that time, just two of the team’s offensive or defensive coordinators, the steppingstones to head coaching positions, have been Black, including none since 2008. Maurice Carthon, who was offensive coordinator under Bill Parcells in 2003 and 2004, said he had a good relationship with Jones — both grew up in Arkansas — but he never sensed he had a realistic shot at the top job with him. Or with any other owner. “I can’t say that I was close at any time,” Carthon said. “I think all of them are failing.” Carthon retired in 2012 after coaching stints with seven teams.

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But “green dividend” is coming from fast tracked energy transition.

Financial Times (paywall):

Emmanuel Macron warned that the US risked “fragmenting the west” with a flagship climate law that the French president said would distort competition by massively subsidising American companies to the detriment of European industries. The harsh words, which came on the first day of his state visit to Washington hosted by president Joe Biden, could weigh on the discussions between the leaders on Thursday.

In a speech on Wednesday night at the French embassy in Washington, Macron said while he agreed with the objectives of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, it would have negative repercussions for Europe by making it less attractive for companies to invest there. “The choices of the past few months, in particular the IRA, are choices that will fragment the west,” he said. “We need to co-ordinate and re-synchronise our policy agendas.”

The law offers roughly $400bn worth of incentives to finance the transition to green energy, including subsidies for electric cars manufactured in the US and tax credits to promote industries such as renewable energy and batteries. Earlier in the day at a closed-door lunch held at Congress with executives and lawmakers, Macron called the IRA “super aggressive for our companies”, according to comments reported by Agence France-Presse and confirmed by a person present. “Perhaps this law will solve your problems but it will make mine worse,” he said, adding that many jobs would be destroyed.

French officials said discussions were under way with their US counterparts about possible remedies that would help avoid competitive distortions in green industries such as electric cars and renewable energy.

One option would be for the US to add the EU to the list of countries whose products can qualify for subsidies, similar to how Mexico and Canada are treated because of existing trade agreements, the officials said. Macron has also called on the EU to pass a so-called “Buy European Act” that would offer similar subsidies to local industries. Other countries such as Germany are less supportive of the idea.

The Hill:

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that the White House had heard Macron’s comments and is prepared to talk about the issue.  

“There’s a number of provisions that will contribute to the growth of clean energy sector globally.  And that is important to note. It presents significant opportunities for European firms, as well as benefits to EU energy security. And this is not a zero-sum game for us. And so, we see a constructive path of engagement with the EU on this,” Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing

Australian Journalist Charles McPhedran has an interesting thread today on a recent analysis of Russia’s initial plans for its Ukraine invasion.

It ranges from confirming the self delusion that is kind of obvious now –

To the objectively horrifying.

What is interesting for me is that, if we believe this analysis, said to be based on information from captured Russian documents, is that plans existed to use Ukrainian nuclear plants to blackmail Europe into submission with the threat of nuclear contamination.
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