Imagine no possessions? Easy if you’re Elon!
Elon Musk has an enormous rocket and a tiny house. Last year the multibillionaire (who is the second-richest person in the world) announced that he was going to sell off most of his physical possessions, including multiple mansions, and “will own no house”. He appears to have made good on much of that pledge and is now living in a $50,000, 375-square-foot, prefab home in Texas that he rents from his company SpaceX.
To say that Musk has “fans” is an understatement. He has devotees. The 50-year-old has an army of admirers, most of whom are young and male, who seem to believe that he is the second coming. Predictably, Musk’s new living arrangements have sparked an orgy of admiration from the MuskBros, who see it as another example of how their dear leader is selflessly – and modestly – saving the world. “Reminder: Elon Musk is the richest person globally with a net worth of $193B, and he lives in a $50k foldable home that he rents …” one guy gushed in a tweet that went viral. “Stop buying stuff you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.”
Now that last bit is very good advice, I’ll grant you that. But let’s not pretend Musk is living a simple and sustainable lifestyle, shall we? His new digs aren’t so much an actual home as a $50,000 office; I’m fairly confident he’s not entertaining his six children there, anyway. It’s easy to eschew possessions when you can afford to get your hands on whatever you want, whenever you want it. And while Musk may not technically own a home, his company effectively owns the village of Boca Chica where his house is located. SpaceX has been accused of ushering out the village’s residents, many of whom are retirees, and pressuring them to sell their homes. Public beaches are reportedly frequently closed with little warning when SpaceX is running tests. Musk has also taken the liberty of unofficially renaming Boca Chica “Starbase”. “For better or worse, Boca Chica belongs to Elon now,” TexasMonthly sighed.
I’ll give credit where it’s due, Musk’s carbon footprint is low by billionaire standards (which isn’t saying much). Bill Gates, for example, who is trying to turn himself into a thought-leader on the climate crisis, is responsible for far more emissions. Still, it’s more than a little nauseating to watch a billionaire – whose wealth rocketed during a global pandemic – being venerated for living modestly. It’s also bizarre to watch him boasting about not owning property during a housing crisis. Thanks to decades of trickle-up economics, nearly half of American workers don’t earn enough to afford a one-bedroom rental, let alone buy a house. Musk wants us to think he is using his immense, and unconscionable, wealth to save the world. But billionaires like him are a result of the same greed that is helping to accelerate the climate crisis. If Musk really wanted to help the planet perhaps he should think less about his living arrangements and more about his tax arrangements.
Why Nasa’s female astronauts can’t fly as much as men
Not only are there are far fewer female astronauts than male ones, women are also not allowed to spend as much time in space. The Economist explains that’s because astronauts are exposed to huge amounts of radiation and women have been found to be at a higher risk of developing cancer than men when exposed to radiation. To limit health problems, Nasa has imposed gender-based career limits on radiation exposure that effective mean a woman can fly only 45-50% of the number of missions that a man can. To make things fairer Nasa wants to replace this system with a standard career limit.
What happened to America’s concern about Afghan women?
A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Afghanistan and women and children will disproportionately suffer. “That’s not America’s problem,” Joe Biden has basically said. For 20 years the US has made a big song and dance about how it was largely in Afghanistan to liberate Afghan women and girls. This was always disingenuous, of course, but the US’s disastrously abrupt exit from the country underscores just how disingenuous it was. US involvement in Afghanistan has been a litany of disasters and was never going to end well. But Biden could certainly have tried to end it a little more thoughtfully, and less abruptly, than he did.
Female reporter being hunted by the Taliban tells her story
“Last week I was a news journalist,” writes an anonymous woman in the Guardian.
“Today I can’t write under my own name or say where I am from or where I am. My whole life has been obliterated in just a few days.”
Women can now wear trousers to the Henley Royal Regatta
Until this year the posh rowing event has mandated that women wear dresses and skirts “with a hemline below the knee”. After a petition by Oxford’s Women’s Boat Club, they’re graciously allowing women to expand their options.
Prince Andrew is not above the law
Like pretty much all of the powerful men connected to Jeffrey Epstein, Prince Andrew has faced some embarrassment but zero real consequences for cavorting with the convicted sex offender. Now, however, he is being sued in the US courts by Virginia Giuffre, who alleges the prince had sex with her when she was 17 while knowing she had been trafficked by Epstein, and it’s looking increasingly unlikely that he’ll be able to ignore the allegations.
Kathy Hochul will become the first female governor of New York
Hochul has said she will work to change the “toxic” work culture in office after Andrew Cuomo’s long overdue resignation. This isn’t the first time Hochul has stepped in to replace a man ousted because of scandal. A decade ago a sex scandal caused Representative Chris Lee to resign in disgrace and Hochul won an election to fill his vacancy. She was succeeded by another dodgy Chris: the Republican Chris Collins, who went to prison for securities fraud.
The week in pawtriarchy
Cats may have cultivated a reputation as aloof predators who secretly want to kill you, but they’re actually fluffy lovebugs who adore their humans. That’s according to a new study that has found cats see their humans as parents, maybe even more so than dogs. They’ve just a slightly odd way of showing it sometimes.
This content was originally published here.