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Anothe sexual predator exposed: Eight women say Charlie Rose sexually harassed them — with nudity, groping and lewd calls

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Irin Carmon and Amy Brittain report in the Washington Post:

Eight women have told The Washington Post that longtime television host Charlie Rose made unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas.

The women were employees or aspired to work for Rose at the “Charlie Rose” show from the late 1990s to as recently as 2011. They ranged in age from 21 to 37 at the time of the alleged encounters. Rose, 75, whose show airs on PBS, also co-hosts “CBS This Morning” and is a contributing correspondent for “60 Minutes.”

There are striking commonalities in the accounts of the women, each of whom described their interactions with Rose in multiple interviews with The Post. For all of the women, reporters interviewed friends, colleagues or family members who said the women had confided in them about aspects of the incidents. Three of the eight spoke on the record.

Five of the women spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of Rose’s stature in the industry, his power over their careers or what they described as his volatile temper.

“In my 45 years in journalism, I have prided myself on being an advocate for the careers of the women with whom I have worked,” Rose said in a statement provided to The Post. “Nevertheless, in the past few days, claims have been made about my behavior toward some former female colleagues.

“It is essential that these women know I hear them and that I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior. I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate. I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.

“I have learned a great deal as a result of these events, and I hope others will too. All of us, including me, are coming to a newer and deeper recognition of the pain caused by conduct in the past, and have come to a profound new respect for women and their lives.”

Most of the women said Rose alternated between fury and flattery in his interactions with them. Five described Rose putting his hand on their legs, sometimes their upper thigh, in what they perceived as a test to gauge their reactions. Two said that while they were working for Rose at his residences or were traveling with him on business, he emerged from the shower and walked naked in front of them. One said he groped her buttocks at a staff party.

Reah Bravo was an intern and then associate producer for Rose’s PBS show beginning in 2007. In interviews, she described unwanted sexual advances while working for Rose at his private waterfront estate in Bellport, N.Y., and while traveling with him in cars, in a hotel suite and on a private plane. . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more, and all of it damning.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 November 2017 at 2:02 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Law, Media

Sudden Shift at a Public Health Journal Leaves Scientists Feeling Censored

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Lisa Song reports in ProPublica:

For much of its 22-year existence, few outside the corner of science devoted to toxic chemicals paid much attention to the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.

But now, a feud has erupted over the small academic publication, as its editorial board — the scientists who advise the journal’s direction and handle article submissions — has accused the journal’s new owner of suppressing a paper and promoting “corporate interests over independent science in the public interest.”

More is at stake than just the journal’s direction.

IJOEH is best known for exposing so-called “product defense science” — industry-linked studies that defend the safety of products made by their funders. At a time when the Trump administration is advancing policiesand nominees sympathetic to the chemical industry, the journal seems to be veering in the same direction.

“There are many scientists who work for corporations who are honest scientists,” said David Michaels, the former head of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration under President Obama. “What we’re concerned about here is the ‘mercenary science’ … that’s published purely to influence regulation or litigation, and doesn’t contribute to public health.”

“I think the IJOEH articles were threatening to that whole industry,” said Michaels, now an environmental and occupational health professor at George Washington University. While Michaels has never served on the journal’s editorial board, he has published an article in the journal and peer-reviewed others.

The journal was one of the relatively few places that provided an outlet for “scientists whose work is independent of the corporations that manufacture chemicals,” he said. “The silencing of that voice would be a real loss to the field.”

Last Thursday, the journal’s 22-member editorial board, along with eight former board members and the journal’s founding editor-in-chief, wrote a letter to the National Library of Medicine requesting disciplinary action against the academic journal’s new publisher, Taylor & Francis Group. In particular, they asked the Library of Medicine to rescind the journal’s listing in the Medline index, which could drastically reduce its scientific influence.

Academic journals are often judged by the reputations of those on their editorial boards, and this list includes a Columbia University dean, the president of the International Commission on Occupational Health and a scientist who helped establish the cancer classification system used by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

UK-based Taylor & Francis, one of the largest publishers of academic journals, acquired IJOEH and 169 other journals in 2015 by purchasing the journal’s original owner and publisher, Maney Publishing. According to the board’s letter, Taylor & Francis has done the following since taking over:

  • Selected a new editor-in-chief, Andrew Maier, without consulting the editorial board. Board members said it’s “highly unlikely” that they would have approved of Maier. Their letter said he had a tendency to reach scientific conclusions “highly sympathetic to parties with an economic interest in favorable outcomes,” which is at odds with the journal’s mission.
  • Withdrew a peer-reviewed article by the journal’s former editor-in-chief David Egilman that criticized Union Carbide Corporation’s efforts to oppose workers’ claims of asbestos exposure. “Suppression of an accepted paper is a direct assault on academic freedom,” the board members wrote to the Library of Medicine.
  • Flagged three additional studies approved for publication under Egilman as “raising potential concerns,” according to a May 8 email the publisher sent to the board.

A Library of Medicine representative said they’re reviewing the board’s appeal.

Officials at Taylor & Francis declined to speak with ProPublica about the accusations in the letter and did not answer most of the questions we submitted in writing, referring us instead to two emails the publisher sent to the board in May.

In one, Ian Bannerman, manager director of Taylor & Francis Journals, insisted the company had no obligation to consult the board in choosing the journal’s new editor. “The responsibility for selecting and appointing an Editor-in-Chief lies with Taylor & Francis as the owner of the journal,” he wrote.

In the other, Bannerman responded to a question from the board about the publisher’s plans for “repositioning” the journal by saying Taylor & Francis would aim to boost its online readership, citation levels and “rapidity of publication.”

“We do not see this as ‘repositioning’ the journal as such,” Bannerman wrote, “but we do see it as a change of tack — putting in place long-term plans and goals for the journal’s future development, enhanced by our expertise in marketing, online publishing, and bibliometric analysis.”

A Struggling Endeavor

Joseph LaDou, the founding editor-in-chief of IJOEH, launched the journal in 1995 after years of struggling to publish his own research. While studying the health hazards of workers making microelectronics for Silicon Valley in the 1980s, he couldn’t find a single U.S. journal to take his paper, he said, and ended up publishing in a Scandinavian public health journal. So when a Philadelphia-based publisher offered him a chance to start a journal for similar types of studies, he jumped on board. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 November 2017 at 1:54 pm

The Periodic Table of Endangered Elements

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Jason Kottke has a post worth reading, and the graphic below is from that post:

His post begins:

Until recently, humanity has treated the Earth as an infinite resource. As the Earth’s population has exploded over the past century however, we’ve learned in many different ways that that’s untrue. We’ve overfished the ocean, pumped too much carbon into the atmosphere and oceans, driven thousands of species into extinction, and terraformed much of the planet’s land. This periodic table produced by the American Chemical Society shows that there are also 44 chemical elements that will face supply limitations in the coming decades. Among those under a “serious threat in the next 100 years” are silver, helium, zinc, and gallium. Robert Silverberg wrote about The Death of Gallium back in 2008: . . .

Continue reading.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

20 November 2017 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Business, Technology

Yet another: NYTimes White House correspondent Glenn Thrush’s history of bad judgment around young women journalists

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I think there will be a lot more names to come. Some men are probably getting nervous. Laura McGann reports in Vox:

Sexual harassment claims against yet another powerful man in media inspired New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush to post an impassioned note on his Facebook page in October, calling on his fellow journalists to stand by women entering the field.

In the post, which linked to an article about the latest accusations against political journalist Mark Halperin, Thrush wrote, “Young people who come into a newsroom deserve to be taught our trade, given our support and enlisted in our calling — not betrayed by little men who believe they are bigger than the mission.”

It was a noble statement — but some Washington journalists I spoke to say it rings hollow, given Thrush’s own behavior with young women in the industry.

“He kept saying he’s an advocate for women and women journalists,” a 23-year-old woman told me, recounting an incident with Thrush from this past June. “That’s how he presented himself to me. He tried to make himself seem like an ally and a mentor.”

She paused. “Kind of ironic now.”

Thrush, 50, is one of the New York Times’s star White House reporters whose chronicles of the Trump administration recently earned him and his frequent writing partner Maggie Haberman a major book deal.

Thrush and the young woman met at her colleague’s going-away party at a bar near the Politico newsroom, she told me, and shared a few rounds of drinks in a booth. The night, she said, ended on a Washington street corner, where Thrush left her in tears after she resisted his advances.

The encounter was troubling enough to the woman that her friend Bianca Padró Ocasio, also 23 and a journalist, confronted Thrush about his behavior via text message the next day.

“I want to make sure you don’t lure young women aspiring journalists into those situations ever again,” she texted. “So help me out here. How can I do that?”

Thrush was apologetic but defensive.

“I don’t lure anybody ever,” he wrote, according to screenshots provided by Padró Ocasio. “I got drunk because I got some shitty health news. And I am acutely aware of the hurdles that young women face in this business and have spent the better part of 20 years advocating for women journalists.”

If Thrush is acutely aware of what young women face in the business of political journalism, he should also know it’s because he himself is one of the problems women face. Five years ago, when Thrush and I were colleagues at Politico, I was in the same bar as Padró Ocasio’s friend — perhaps the same booth — when he caught me off guard, put his hand on my thigh, and suddenly started kissing me. Thrush says that he recalls the incident differently.

Three young women I interviewed, including the young woman who met Thrush in June, described to me a range of similar experiences, from unwanted groping and kissing to wet kisses out of nowhere to hazy sexual encounters that played out under the influence of alcohol. Each woman described feeling differently about these experiences: scared, violated, ashamed, weirded out. I was — and am — angry.

Details of their stories suggest a pattern. All of the women were in their 20s at the time. They were relatively early in their careers compared to Thrush, who was the kind of seasoned journalist who would be good to know. At an event with alcohol, he made advances. Afterward, they (as I did) thought it best to stay on good terms with Thrush, whatever their feelings.

“I apologize to any woman who felt uncomfortable in my presence, and for any situation where I behaved inappropriately. Any behavior that makes a woman feel disrespected or uncomfortable is unacceptable,” Thrush said in a statement emailed to me on November 19.

In interviews with about 40 people in and around media who know Thrush, I got a picture of a reporter whose title doesn’t capture his power and stature. People who’ve worked with him say he can get a writer’s name in front of the right editor, if he wants. Newsroom leaders care what he thinks. Some reporters said Thrush had used his connections to help them land jobs or develop new sources.

The downfall of Hollywood titan Weinstein has been a catalyst for a movement to stamp out workplace harassment, particularly the variety to pits powerful men against much less powerful women. They are facing consequences for their behavior like never before, including men in media. Halperin lost a coveted book deal. NPR news chief Michael Oreskes resigned. Leon Wieseltier lost funding for his new magazine. And Lockhart Steele, the editorial director of Vox Media, Vox’s parent company, was fired for misconduct.

Thrush wasn’t my boss at Politico. He was a reporter and I was an editor. We were on different teams and hardly crossed each other’s paths. But he was an incredibly influential person in the newsroom and in political journalism, a world I was still trying to break into in a meaningful way at the time.

It wasn’t that Thrush was offering young women a quid pro quo deal, such as sex in exchange for mentorship. Thrush, just by his stature, put women in a position of feeling they had to suck up and move on from an uncomfortable encounter.

On that night five years ago,  . . .

Continue reading.

Update: NY Times suspends Glenn Thrush.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 November 2017 at 9:04 am

How Politics and Bad Decisions Starved New York’s Subways

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Another sign of the decline of the US: the inability to maintain and improve public infrastructure. Brian Rosenthal, Emma Fitzsimmons, and Michael LaForgia report in the NY Times:\

After a drumbeat of transit disasters this year, it became impossible to ignore the failures of the New York City subway system.

A rush-hour Q train careened off the rails in southern Brooklyn. A track fire on the A line in Upper Manhattan sent nine riders to the hospital. A crowded F train stalled in a downtown tunnel, leaving hundreds in the dark without air-conditioning for nearly an hour. As the heat of packed-together bodies fogged the windows, passengers beat on the walls and clawed at the doors in a scene from a real-life horror story.

In June, after another derailment injured 34 people, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared that the system was in a “state of emergency.”

But the problems plaguing the subway did not suddenly sweep over the city like a tornado or a flood. They were years in the making, and they might have been avoided if decision makers had put the interests of train riders and daily operations ahead of flashy projects and financial gimmicks.

An examination by The New York Times reveals in stark terms how the needs of the aging, overburdened system have grown while city and state politicians have consistently steered money away from addressing them.

Century-old tunnels and track routes are crumbling, but The Times found that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s budget for subway maintenance has barely changed, when adjusted for inflation, from what it was 25 years ago.

Signal problems and car equipment failures occur twice as frequently as a decade ago, but hundreds of mechanic positions have been cut because there is not enough money to pay them — even though the average total compensation for subway managers has grown to nearly $300,000 a year.

Daily ridership has nearly doubled in the past two decades to 5.7 million, but New York is the only major city in the world with fewer miles of track than it had during World War II. Efforts to add new lines have been hampered by generous agreements with labor unions and private contractors that have inflated construction costs to five times the international average.

New York’s subway now has the worst on-time performance of any major rapid transit system in the world, according to data collected from the 20 biggest. Just 65 percent of weekday trains reach their destinations on time, the lowest rate since the transit crisis of the 1970s, when graffiti-covered cars regularly broke down.

None of this happened on its own. It was the result of a series of decisions by both Republican and Democratic politicians — governors from George E. Pataki to Mr. Cuomo and mayors from Rudolph W. Giuliani to Bill de Blasio. Each of them cut the subway’s budget or co-opted it for their own priorities.

They stripped a combined $1.5 billion from the M.T.A. by repeatedly diverting tax revenues earmarked for the subways and also by demanding large payments for financial advice, I.T. help and other services that transit leaders say the authority could have done without.

They pressured the M.T.A. to spend billions of dollars on opulent station makeovers and other projects that did nothing to boost service or reliability, while leaving the actual movement of trains to rely on a 1930s-era signal system with fraying, cloth-covered cables.

They saddled the M.T.A. with debt and engineered a deal with creditors that brought in quick cash but locked the authority into paying $5 billion in interest that it otherwise never would have had to pay.

In one particularly egregious example, Mr. Cuomo’s administration forced the M.T.A. to send $5 million to bail out three state-run ski resorts that were struggling after a warm winter.

At the same time, public officials who have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions from M.T.A. unions and contractors have pressured the authority into signing agreements with labor groups and construction companies that obligated the authority to pay far more than it had planned.

Faced with funding shortfalls, the M.T.A. has resorted to borrowing. Nearly 17 percent of its budget now goes to pay down debt — roughly triple what it paid in 1997.

“It’s genuinely shocking how much of every dollar that goes to the M.T.A. is spent on expenses that have nothing to do with running the subway,” said Seth W. Pinsky, the former head of the city’s Economic Development Corporation. “That’s the problem.” . . .

Continue reading.

The US is becoming a highly dysfunctional country, I fear.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 November 2017 at 12:09 pm

The cutthroat world of English pubs: Here’s what we learned from ordering 213 curries at Wetherspoons

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Bryce Elder has an interesting article in Financial Times:

How cheap is JD Wetherspoon? There’s a simple answer — it’s the cheapest place within ten minutes of where you’re stood — and then there’s a much, much more complicated answer.

Though all Wetherspoon pubs use the same base menu, no two Wetherspoons charge the same prices. This is no secret, but neither is it made obvious. The corporate website keeps exhaustive records of ingredients, allergen information and calorific values for each and every one of the 150 or so menu items on offer, but omits any mention of prices. All of Wetherspoon’s 893 pubs across the UK and the Republic of Ireland get individual landing pages but, again, there’s nothing to indicate what things cost. What gives?

The FAQ has an explainer of sorts:

Why do prices vary across different pubs?

For various reasons, such as rents, rates, staffing, local competition and so on, food and drinks prices may vary per pub. This tends to be the case with all pubs, in general.

What we do try to achieve, however, is having the lowest prices, on average, in each location where we operate.

But what does “prices may vary per pub” mean in practice? To find out, we scraped data from Wetherspoon’s smartphone app, which can be gamed into placing food and drink orders to any bar in the country. In every pub we ordered exactly the same thing:

And here are the results:

That’s 130 different prices across 213 pubs sampled, with a £10.96 swing between the cheapest (suburban Birmingham) and the most expensive (urban Manchester). Remember, that’s on just five items taken from a menu the size of a theatre programme.

Here’s how the totals look as a blob map. . .

Continue reading.

Lots more at the link, including many charts.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 November 2017 at 10:00 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow

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An interesting profile by Neil Strauss in Rolling Stone:

It’s mid-afternoon on a Friday at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and three of Elon Musk’s children are gathered around him – one of his triplets, both of his twins.

Musk is wearing a gray T-shirt and sitting in a swivel chair at his desk, which is not in a private office behind a closed door, but in an accessible corner cubicle festooned with outer-space novelty items, photos of his rockets, and mementos from Tesla and his other companies.

Most tellingly, there’s a framed poster of a shooting star with a caption underneath it that reads, “When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it’s really a meteor hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you’re pretty much hosed, no matter what you wish for. Unless it’s death by meteorite.” To most people, this would be mere dark humor, but in this setting, it’s also a reminder of Musk’s master plan: to create habitats for humanity on other planets and moons. If we don’t send our civilization into another Dark Ages before Musk or one of his dream’s inheritors pull it off, then Musk will likely be remembered as one of the most seminal figures of this millennium. Kids on all the terraformed planets of the universe will look forward to Musk Day, when they get the day off to commemorate the birth of the Earthling who single-handedly ushered in the era of space colonization.

And that’s just one of Musk’s ambitions. Others include converting automobiles, households and as much industry as possible from fossil fuels to sustainable energy; implementing a new form of high-speed city-to-city transportation via vacuum tube; relieving traffic congestion with a honeycomb of underground tunnels fitted with electric skates for cars and commuters; creating a mind-computer interface to enhance human health and brainpower; and saving humanity from the future threat of an artificial intelligence that may one day run amok and decide, quite rationally, to eliminate the irrational human species.

So far, Musk, 46, has accomplished none of these goals.

But what he has done is something that very few living people can claim: Painstakingly bulldozed, with no experience whatsoever, into two fields with ridiculously high barriers to entry – car manufacturing (Tesla) and rocketry (SpaceX) – and created the best products in those industries, as measured by just about any meaningful metric you can think of. In the process, he’s managed to sell the world on his capability to achieve objectives so lofty that from the mouth of anyone else, they’d be called fantasies.

At least, most of the world. “I’m looking at the short losses,” Musk says, transfixed by CNBC on his iPhone. He speaks to his kids without looking up. “Guys, check this out: Tesla has the highest short position in the entire stock market. A $9 billion short position.”

His children lean over the phone, looking at a table full of numbers that I don’t understand. So his 13-year-old, Griffin, explains it to me: “They’re betting that the stock goes down, and they’re getting money off that. But it went up high, so they lost an insane amount of money.”

“They’re jerks who want us to die,” Musk elaborates. “They’re constantly trying to make up false rumors and amplify any negative rumors. It’s a really big incentive to lie and attack my integrity. It’s really awful. It’s…”

He trails off, as he often does when preoccupied by a thought. I try to help: “Unethical?”

“It’s…” He shakes his head and struggles for the right word, then says softly, “Hurtful.”

It is easy to confuse who someone is with what they do, and thus turn them into a caricature who fits neatly into a storybook view of the world. Our culture always needs villains and heroes, fools and geniuses, scapegoats and role models. However, despite opinions to the contrary, Elon Musk is not a robot sent from the future to save humanity. Nor is he a Silicon Valley savant whose emotional affect has been replaced with supercomputer-like intelligence. Over the course of nine months of reporting, watching Musk do everything from strategize Mars landings with his rocket-engineering team to plan the next breakthroughs with his artificial-intelligence experts, I learned he is someone far, far different from what his myth and reputation suggest.

The New York Times has called him “arguably the most successful and important entrepreneur in the world.” It’s an easy case to make: He’s probably the only person who has started four billion-dollar companies – PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City. But at his core, Musk is not a businessman or entrepreneur. He’s an engineer, inventor and, as he puts it, “technologist.” And as a naturally gifted engineer, he’s able to find the design inefficiencies, flaws and complete oversights in the tools that power our civilization.

“He’s able to see things more clearly in a way that no one else I know of can understand,” says his brother, Kimbal. He discusses his brother’s love of chess in their earlier years, and adds, “There’s a thing in chess where you can see 12 moves ahead if you’re a grandmaster. And in any particular situation, Elon can see things 12 moves ahead.”

His children soon leave for the home of their mother, Musk’s ex-wife Justine. “I wish we could be private with Tesla,” Musk murmurs as they exit. “It actually makes us less efficient to be a public company.”

What follows is … silence. Musk sits at his desk, looking at his phone, but not typing or reading anything. He then lowers himself to the floor, and stretches his back on a foam roller. When he finishes, I attempt to start the interview by asking about the Tesla Model 3 launch a week earlier, and what it felt like to stand onstage and tell the world he’d just pulled off a plan 14 years in the making: to bootstrap, with luxury electric cars, a mass-market electric car.

The accomplishment, for Musk, is not just in making a $35,000 electric car; it’s in making a $35,000 electric car that’s so good, and so in-demand, that it forces other car manufacturers to phase out gas cars to compete. And sure enough, within two months of the launch, both GM and Jaguar Land Rover announced they were planning to eliminate gas cars and go all-electric.

Musk thinks for a while, begins to answer, then pauses. “Uh, actually, let me go to the restroom. Then I’ll ask you to repeat that question.” A longer pause. “I also have to unload other things from my mind.”

Five minutes later, Musk still hasn’t returned. Sam Teller, his chief of staff, says, “I’ll be right back.”

Several minutes after that, they both reappear and huddle nearby, whispering to each other. Then Musk returns to his desk.

“We can reschedule for another day if this is a bad time,” I offer.

Musk clasps his hands on the surface of the desk, composes himself, and declines.

“It might take me a little while to get into the rhythm of things.”

Then he heaves a sigh and ends his effort at composure. “I just broke up with my girlfriend,” he says hesitantly. “I was really in love, and it hurt bad.”

He pauses and corrects himself: “Well, she broke up with me more than I broke up with her, I think.”

Thus, the answer to the question posed earlier: It felt unexpectedly, disappointingly, uncontrollably horrible to launch the Model 3. “I’ve been in severe emotional pain for the last few weeks,” Musk elaborates. “Severe. It took every ounce of will to be able to do the Model 3 event and not look like the most depressed guy around. For most of that day, I was morbid. And then I had to psych myself up: drink a couple of Red Bulls, hang out with positive people and then, like, tell myself: ‘I have all these people depending on me. All right, do it!'”

Minutes before the event, after meditating for pretty much the first time in his life to get centered, Musk chose a very telling song to drive onstage to: “R U Mine?” by the Arctic Monkeys.

Musk discusses the breakup for a few more minutes, then asks, earnestly, deadpan, “Is there anybody you think I should date? It’s so hard for me to even meet people.” He swallows and clarifies, stammering softly, “I’m looking for a long-term relationship. I’m not looking for a one-night stand. I’m looking for a serious companion or soulmate, that kind of thing.”

I eventually tell him that it may not be a good idea to jump right into another relationship. He may want to take some time to himself and figure out why his previous relationships haven’t worked in the long run: his marriage to writer Justine Musk, his marriage to actress Talulah Riley, and this new breakup with actress Amber Heard.

Musk shakes his head and grimaces: “If I’m not in love, if I’m not with a long-term companion, I cannot be happy.”

I explain that needing someone so badly that you feel like nothing without them is textbook codependence.

Musk disagrees. Strongly. “It’s not true,” he replies petulantly. “I will never be happy without having someone. Going to sleep alone kills me.” He hesitates, shakes his head, falters, continues. “It’s not like I don’t know what that feels like: Being in a big empty house, and the footsteps echoing through the hallway, no one there – and no one on the pillow next to you. Fuck. How do you make yourself happy in a situation like that?”

There’s truth to what Musk is saying. It is lonely at the top. But not for everyone. It’s lonely at the top for those who were lonely at the bottom.

“When I was a child, there’s one thing I said,” Musk continues. His demeanor is stiff, yet in the sheen of his eyes and the trembling of his lips, a high tide of emotion is visible, pushing against the retaining walls. “‘I never want to be alone.’ That’s what I would say.” His voice drops to a whisper. “I don’t want to be alone.”

A ring of red forms around his eyes as he stares forward and sits frozen in silence. Musk is a titan, a visionary, a human-size lever pushing forward massive historical inevitabilities – the kind of person who comes around only a few times in a century – but in this moment, he seems like a child who is afraid of abandonment. And that may be the origin story of Musk’s superambitions, but more on that later. In the meantime, Musk has something he’d like to show me.

“If you say anything about what you’re about to see, it would cost us billions,” he says, rising from his desk. “And you would be put in jail.”

The most interesting tourist attraction in Los Angeles County is one that’s not in many guidebooks: It’s in the otherwise-untouristed southwestern city of Hawthorne, around SpaceX. If you walk along Crenshaw Boulevard from Jack Northrop Boulevard to 120th Street, what you will see is a city of the future that’s under construction. This is Musk city, an alternate reality, a triumph of futuristic imagination more thrilling than anything at a Disney park. On the west side of the street, a 156-foot-tall rocket towers above SpaceX headquarters, symbolizing Musk’s dream of relatively low-cost interplanetary travel. This particular rocket booster was the first in human history to be launched into space, then recovered intact on Earth after separating, and then fired back into space. On the east side of the street, an employee parking lot has been dug up and turned into the first-ever tunnel for the Boring Company, Musk’s underground-honeycomb solution to traffic jams and the future home of all his terrestrial transportation projects. Then, running for a mile beside Jack Northrop Boulevard, there’s a white vacuum tube along the shoulder of the road. This is the test track for the Hyperloop, Musk’s high-speed form of city-to-city travel. Taken together, the dreams of Musk city promise to connect the planet and the solar system in ways that will fundamentally change humanity’s relationship to two of the most important facets of its reality: distance and time.

But there is a particular building in Musk city that few have visited, and this is where Musk takes me. It is the . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 November 2017 at 9:49 am

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