Category Archives: Poetry

Reduce Your Vulnerability to Fraud by Listening to More Stories

There is measurable vulnerability in people who lack experience outside a single story. We documented this in terms of who falls victim to Advance Fee Fraud (419 scams) but it also applies to the AntiFa and BLM scams spreading lately.

A story-teller on TED may explain it far better than I ever could:

Army Captain Florent Groberg, who received the Medal of Honor for charging a suicide bomber in Afghanistan, calls this opening up to others so you can “have a conversation”.

Deepfake Map History

Here’s a weird footnote in deepfake history…

Old publishers of “facts” like map makers and encyclopedias gave up inserting fake data after the US Supreme Court ruled their facts can’t be copyrighted, as a New Yorker article from 2005 explained.

If Mountweazel is not a household name, even in fountain-designing or mailbox-photography circles, that is because she never existed. “It was an old tradition in encyclopedias to put in a fake entry to protect your copyright,” Richard Steins, who was one of the volume’s editors, said the other day. “If someone copied Lillian, then we’d know they’d stolen from us.”

The clever habit of sprinkling fake facts among the real ones declined when money couldn’t be made from proving someone copied facts.

It kind of makes sense that they lost the copyright.

Stealing a fact seems absurd, made only more absurd by polluting a fact to prove it was stolen (an act essentially proving it impossible to steal a fact), and then made even more absurd by trying to prove the decoy (deepfake) is NOT a fact.

“Its inherent fakeitude is fairly obvious,” she said. “We wanted something highly improbable. We were trying to make a word that could not arise in nature.”

They had to make the fake obvious, yet hidden, because they wanted to prosecute people for copying facts that couldn’t be distinguished from fakes. Uh-huh.

In the end there were better ways to create uniqueness (such as very specific distances) versus these silly falsifications. Money for copyright violation seems like such a low bar though, in terms of why someone would insert fakes into a map.

Food for thought when you look at your next map and wonder if you can detect a deepfake. As I wrote in 2020, maps are inherently political and about power.

What If There Was No Good/Bad Split in Narratives?

Since I was a teenager I’ve preferred watching non-American movies because they aren’t saddled with the boring good/bad split.

Drama becomes exceptionally lame when you are told who is good, who is bad, and then you take an obvious side and wait out the inevitable results.

Nothing is at stake.

This was always one of the first points I made when I was teaching ethics to computer science graduate students.

A simple good/bad binary is like an empty premise, not food for thought; doesn’t come anywhere close to reflecting the messy and hard decisions of the real world.

On that note, here’s an interesting essay that says Robin Hood was transfigured into a moral tale to excite political resistance:

As part of this new nationalist consciousness, other authors started changing the old stories to make a moral distinction between, for example, Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Before Joseph Ritson’s 1795 retelling of these legends, earlier written stories about the outlaw mostly showed him carousing in the forest with his merry men. He didn’t rob from the rich to give to the poor until Ritson’s version – written to inspire a British populist uprising after the French Revolution. Ritson’s rendering was so popular that modern retellings of Robin Hood, such as Disney’s 1973 cartoon or the film Prince of Thieves (1991) are more centrally about outlaw moral obligations than outlaw hijinks. The Sheriff of Nottingham was transformed from a simple antagonist to someone who symbolised the abuses of power against the powerless. Even within a single nation (Robin Hood), or a single household (Cinderella), every scale of conflict was restaged as a conflict of values.

My immediate thought is that this presents a chicken-and-egg dilemma. Were old stories changed only after nationalist consciousness, or did they create it?

I mean these narratives may have changed as a reflection of nationalist consciousness, but that doesn’t preclude narratives from having moral spin. Nor does it preclude moral stories from being messy and complex to stimulate thought instead of obedience.

Overall the essay lacks a lot of oral traditions and mostly centers around Greek literature. It makes no mention of Native American or African stories at all, for example, so I am unconvinced it has a fully researched view.

One clear danger is how a good/bad narrative is a terrible way to practice intelligence, let alone threat detection and mitigation. Some people broadly apply a very precise term like “terrorism”, for example, to be a generic classifier of “bad”:

The terrorism label, for them, is a way of distinguishing who is in the wrong. Brian Jenkins, a leading scholar of terrorism, observed in 1981: ‘Terrorism is what the bad guys do.’

How “Gullah” Atlantic Creole Defeated American Surveillance

Sunn M’Cheaux of Harvard explains — in a brief history lesson on accents within a longer video — that American slaveholders tried to force learning English to surveil and thereby prevent rebellion of their slaves.

As he lays out in the video, there were many native languages among the Blacks kidnapped and forced into American concentration camps. Slaveholders worked hard to mismatch and divide people to prevent any two slaves from speaking with each other except using English (so they could be surveilled and freedom quashed).

Such a plan for racist dominance and control over Blacks (surveillance capitalism as a symptom) ultimately backfired, however. Diverse languages among the slaves evolved into a whole new “creole” that their oppressors struggled to understand.

This common example shows how a Gullah phrase would look versus an English equivalent:

De buckruh dey duh ‘ood duh hunt tuckrey.
The white man is in the woods hunting turkeys.

Kumbaya, as I’ve written about before in terms of American surveillance history, is alleged to be a Gullah phrase for “come by here” — an encoded expression of Black liberation theology.

The Gullah Geechie people are descendants of people from the rice-growing region of West Africa, who were forced into the rice plantations (concentration camps) of South Carolina and Georgia. Those who could escape tyrannical American abuses headed across the border at that time, towards the freedoms given to them under Spanish or French monarchy (even British monarchy by 1800s was abolishing slavery, so life in America was unquestionably the worst).

While Florida was still part of the Spanish empire the Gullah who arrived there built their own settlements and began to prosper, away from the white nationalist extremists running America. A series of wars were even fought to preserve these Black freedoms, which had the effect of further scattering the Gullah across North America.

More precisely General Andrew Jackson in 1818, a long-time white insecurity leader with the life-long objective to steal and destroy Black prosperity in America (e.g. note his abuse of Black American veterans in 1815), illegally invaded Florida to murder the non-white population there.

The video above lays out some of the important Gullah achievements against American tyranny, and the outsized role of John Horse:

  • They created the largest haven in the U.S. South for runaway slaves
  • They led the largest slave revolt in U.S. history
  • They secured the only emancipation of rebellious slaves prior to the U.S. Civil War
  • The formed the largest mass exodus of slaves across the United States and, ultimately, to Mexico

Since Mexico figures prominently here, crucial to understanding the “Remember the Alamo” phrase popular in America is that it had always been a racist white insecurity response to Black liberation and freedom… in Mexico.

The slave rebellions of the early 1830s thus were when white immigrants (like the assault by Andrew Jackson into Florida two decades prior) pushed white militancy upon Mexico (state of Tejas). White settlers were trying to replace existing freedom with a tyranny, ultimately with the aim to expand slavery.

So when a white militia occupied the Mission San Antonio de Valero (a ruin called “the Alamo” because Spanish for cottonwood) it was precisely to violently force a white nationalist state into being against the rising Gullah freedom movement (the foundation story for white police state of Texas).

American slave rebellions map from http://www.johnhorse.com

It’s shocking that today most Americans are more familiar with the gross disinformation spread about the Alamo and Texas as a whole, while few if any are taught about the Gullah Wars of the exact same period that show what was actually at stake.

That probably has something to do with the fact that American children are spoon-fed very North-Korean sounding “underdog” missives about the bogus heroism of white slaveholders fighting to expand slavery. The Civil War, like the Gullah Wars that preceded it, was to stop tyranny spreading.

Saying “remember the Alamo” or throwing around associated racist salutes are like stupidly trying to teach that expansion of slavery should be promoted as if it was a good thing. Here’s what it really means:

…no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens…

And, just like any tyrant would be expected to do, a Texas state representative has introduced legislation to censor the mention of slavery being one of the causes of the Texas Revolution (it was the primary cause).

Thus, Gullah history is interesting to consider when people talk about surveillance technology and oppression even today. It almost seems that soon the only safe way to teach real facts about places like Texas, Florida or Georgia (states where Blacks were free until they joined America) might be to return to roots and practice Gullah.


Update May 20, 2021:

Whit Diffie says in a preview for the RSA Conference Cryptographer’s Panel that increasing communication decreases freedoms, and we’re only a decade away from total freedom loss.

I would argue this is a false choice fallacy, and the Gullah history above hopefully shows why. Could the Gullah communicate securely while also being free? Indeed, by increasing their communication they realized greater freedoms than before.

As Tom Wolfe wrote in “The kingdom of speech“…

Physically, [the human] is a sad case. His teeth are baby-size and can barely penetrate the skin of a too-green apple. His claws can’t do anything but scratch him where he itches. His stringy-ligament body makes him a weakling compared to all the animals his size. Animals his size? In hand-to-paw, hand-to-claw, or hand-to-incisor combat, any animal his size would have him for lunch. Yet [the human] owns or controls them all, every animal that exists, thanks to his superpower: speech.

Gullah Atlantic Creole is a superpower? Now that’s an American history story I would love to see kids learn.

The British in WWII Reported Own Losses to Undermine Nazi Confidence in Wins

An old story from The Guardian reported how transparency played in a war with liars:

An academic trawl of the corporation’s archives has revealed that while the Nazi regime used puppet broadcasters such as William Joyce – nicknamed Lord Haw-Haw – to spin messages of German invincibility, the BBC was choosing to broadcast detailed news of Britain’s military setbacks. The decision was part of a deliberate strategy to win the hearts and minds of the German people, says Dr Vike Martina Plock of the department of English at Exeter University, who discovered memos from the time during research at the BBC Written Archives Centre in Caversham Park, Reading.

The strategy was simple.

If the Allies could openly admit defeats, it was believed [by Nazi listeners], they must be extremely confident, convinced of their eventual victory over Nazi Germany.

Tales of invincibility projects weakness, whereas confidence comes through when talking openly about losses.

For instance, on 27 November 1942 the service reported on the bombing of Toulon by the Germans and the scuttling of the French fleet by Allied forces to avoid capture by the Nazis. The invasion of Norway was covered with similar attention to detail. On 6 April 1940, days before the invasion the BBC German Service accordingly told listeners that the German navy had sunk 52 Norwegian ships causing the death of 392 people.

The BBC referred to themselves as “The Fourth Arm” of warfare and some of it still can be reviewed in their archives.

Source: BBC Genome

Here’s the kind of honesty in British reporting the Germans reoriented themselves towards:

Source: Indian Annual Register, Volume 1, 1945, page 253

On the flip side, opposite to the examples of truth telling, are all the “spin” stories such as the giant fiction of Rommel being anything but a selfish hack, who I’ve written about before.

A couple years after his failures in North Africa and Europe he was coerced into suicide by state threats to kill his entire family, covered up by propaganda claiming he died from battle wounds.

Rommel’s reputation obviously was artificially inflated during and after his life. This despite massive failures and pathetically supporting Hitler all the way to taking a poison pill to prove he remained loyal to the lies of fascism. Rommel literally said in his final days that the coming occupation (a period of truth-telling) wouldn’t suit him.

Hitler then demanded Rommel commit suicide or be forced to watch all his family and contacts be gunned down first before being executed; his chief of staff and commanding officer already executed by Hitler.

And in that context of the liars going to the grave rather than try to live a truth, we must also not forget “Lord Haw-Haw” was in the end held responsible for his Nazi “spin” broadcasts.

4 January 1946: William Joyce, known as Lord Haw-Haw, who started his Nazi propaganda broadcasts with ‘Germany calling,’ is executed for treason.

It was a similar fate for another Nazi “spin” broadcaster, Paul Ferdonnet from France, also who I’ve written about before.

This Day in History 1921: Sophie Scholl Was Born

Source: Diana Hildebrandt

On the 22nd of February 1943 a brave 21-year-old woman walked to a Nazi guillotine, displaying full conviction she “had done the best I could have done for my people”.

This is where her life ended. But how did it begin?

Today marks what would have been the 100th birthday of Sophie Scholl. On May 9th, 1921 her protestant liberal German parents had their fourth child, who grew interested in art and music.

Like all “eligible” German children she was forced to endure indoctrination from the “Hitler Youth” program. The Nazi system of hate was designed to stomp children into becoming obedient followers of a fascist regime of ruthless intolerance, and to rebel against their parents.

Sophie, as might be expected of such heavy propaganda, at first participated in regular programmed camaraderie and adventures. She became a squad leader of the Nazi Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Girls), where they were trained to sing songs like this one.

Läutet, daß blutig die Seile sich röten,
Rings lauter Brennen und Martern und Töten

(Ringing, until ropes run red with blood,
Ring louder with burning, torture and murder)

Then her loyalty and intelligence began to take effect. Major doubts arose: Why were her friends denied membership for being Jewish? Why were books mysteriously forbidden from any discussion with her own squad? Why were women being denied any future except “wife, mother, and homemaker”?

Her older brother Hans was arrested in 1936 when he crossed one of these invisible lines of secret police, accused of being in a forbidden youth movement (Deutsche Jungenschaft, Bündische Jugend — basically the Boy Scouts).

It was this arrest of her brother that turned Sophie as a 15 year old girl away from Nazism — she felt loyalty to her family and to human values more than the irrational hate programming.

Six years later in 1942 Sophie joined her brother Hans at Munich university, where he already had been active in a group called The White Rose that opposed German fascism.

Sophie then convinced her fiancee — a 25-year-old law student and officer in the Nazi air force named Fritz Hartnagel — to also support the resistance group.

On the 23rd January 1943, just a month before The White Rose was uncovered and Sophie would be executed, Hartnagel returned to Germany on the last military evacuation plane out of Stalingrad. Dutiful as a Nazi officer, yet supportive of Sophie in The White Rose, he survived the war and died in 2001 at age 84.

Today she is considered one of the most important Germans of all time.

True/False? “NHTSA reports an average of one accident per 484,000 miles”

As soon as Tesla was on the road it had to start reporting deaths. Source: https://www.tesladeaths.com/

I keep reading the following sentence in safety reports about Tesla, but only about Tesla:

NHTSA reports an average of one accident per 484,000 miles.

Do you see the NHTSA reporting that anywhere? I do not. And I do not see any other car manufacturer quoting this number either.

I see only a sentence Tesla put on their website to claim they aspire “to be” the safest car on the road. And then they wrote that sentence without any source or qualifications.

In other words the 484,000 miles reference is found nowhere but the Tesla site, which claims it found it somewhere else without telling us exactly where.

This December 2020 NHTSA report (DOT HS 813 060) is perhaps the closest thing: “Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2019”

Source: NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, Research Note: “Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2019”, DOT HS 813 060

Wow, as a percentage of total fatalities since 1995 more and more people outside cars are being killed!

Speaking of charts, here’s a real one based on the data that Tesla itself publishes.

Source: Tesla Vehicle Safety Report for the first quarter of 2021. It clearly shows the average distance per accident while driving on Autopilot, and driving off Autopilot, both declined year-over-year.

I am not kidding when I illustrate their own data showing the precipitous decline in safety over recent quarters, while their NHTSA number is showing almost no change. These are the real numbers they publish themselves. Bizarre.

So can someone find the magic 484,000 number anywhere in NHTSA reports? I have questions even if you can:

  1. Why didn’t Tesla put in a simple NHTSA reference to their claim? Don’t they want us to connect directly to the NHTSA and read that report if true?
  2. Why do people keep repeating this without any direct NHTSA reference? People say Tesla says that the NHTSA says a number. What? Nobody just says please show us this report? Can anybody find an actual NHTSA report that says this number?
  3. Does anyone understand what NHTSA might actually be talking about when they are cited improperly in this Tesla quote?

Until I see this report where NHTSA says the exact magic 484,000 number, I continue to believe something is very wrong with media channels repeating it as though it’s true.

Take this report that uses the number for example:

Stock in the electric-vehicle pioneer Tesla is wobbling after a Tesla vehicle crashed and police said no one appears to have been at the wheel.

Here’s another one that uses the number:

Tesla Q1 Safety Report Shows Rise In Autopilot Accidents

Why is that 484,000 data point being sourced from Tesla in these articles about Tesla safety failures, and NOT some statement or report directly from the actual NHTSA?

Perhaps Tesla is engaging in disinformation such that safety news is always controlled by them and them alone to poison a safety narrative?

Here are some guesses why Tesla doesn’t want someone to find or read a NHTSA report, even though Tesla wants us to believe they base their safety engineering on it:

  • NHTSA averages are for all vehicles in all conditions everywhere
  • Tesla averages are for a tiny subset of vehicles and conditions
  • Tesla doesn’t define methods or terms such as miles, crash, accident
  • Tesla crashes have been increasing, worsening not improving
  • Other car manufacturers are reporting their safest records in history during rise in Tesla fatalities and injuries

Saying Autopilot in a Tesla is safer than a 1995 rust-bucket on a dirt road where Autopilot can’t even function is a completely bogus comparison.

Tesla seems to be willfully misleading with its claims about crash data.

As an example of more meaningful comparison here is an actual NHTSA report on factors in crashes in the United States:

Source: NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, Research Note: “The Relationship Between Passenger Vehicle Occupant Injury Outcomes and Vehicle Age or Model Year in Police-Reported Crashes”, DOT HS 812 937

From this table we see 1995-2011 cars are clocking 1,030,624 severe injuries.

Meanwhile, 2012-2018 cars have only 199,480. So is the 2021 Tesla safety marketing campaign comparing itself to a 1995 car on purpose?

Also the NHTSA issues a warning about their own numbers:

…while the present analysis shows that the newer vehicle model year groups were inversely associated with occupant injury severity outcome, this study does not identify which aspects of the model year group with particular vehicular designs are responsible for the reduction in the risk of severe injury to vehicle occupants.

That’s literally the opposite of Tesla marketing, which repeatedly says their particular vehicle is responsible for reduction of crashes… despite no actual evidence to support such claims.

Tesla put its first cars on the road in 2013, right? So you can see it’s patently unfair to compare a 2013 or later model with anything prior unless making a completely different point about car safety (e.g. buy any new car, not an old car, because data shows generic new cars safer than all old ones).

Do you see a problem with Tesla comparing its particular cars to all crashes ever for all cars on the road instead of doing a true comparison with proper analysis?

What if we just run the numbers of Teslas crashing versus Teslas delivered. What percentage of Teslas crash, and how soon after being delivered?

Remember that table at the start of this post?

After putting only a few thousand cars on the road, and a CEO publicly stating his cars are the safest of all cars on the road, Tesla had to report two deaths from a car that “veers into opposite lane”.

Is there another car manufacturer that has as many deaths per cars delivered?

If you went out to buy a car today, Tesla continues to claim misleadingly you should see them as safer than ALL cars ever made, even when you are only in the market for NEW cars.

And when you’re in the market for new cars, Tesla may in fact be significantly less safe than other options (Volvo, Honda, etc). Here’s some proper analysis:

The fundamental problem here is that Tesla does a poor job of driver monitoring. Unlike several other automakers, Tesla only uses a torque sensor in the steering wheel to try to detect when the driver is moving the wheel. This is a cheap but very imprecise method.

A brand new Tesla uses “cheap but very imprecise” engineering for its safety.

Why would Tesla hide the reference to the NHTSA and make it hard to see the actual math? Seems cheap and imprecise of them.

Again, here’s some proper analysis.

General Motors’ similar Super Cruise feature, which is advertised as hands-free, uses facial recognition technology to ensure that a driver is watching the road while it is in operation and recently ranked higher than Autopilot in a Consumer Reports test

I don’t like “hands-free” marketing either, but you have to recognize that Tesla was ranked lower than other brands in safety using independent analysis

If nothing else, you should know Tesla clearly doesn’t want the NHTSA to speak for itself because it never seems to say to anyone “here’s the NHTSA” or “go read the NHTSA”.

Until I see people start to use original source NHTSA documentation when talking about NHTSA reports, I am extremely skeptical of the NHTSA being fairly referenced by Tesla.

If Tesla builds cars like they build their arguments to drive their cars, you shouldn’t buy their cars.

Here’s some poetry that might help explain:

Electric cars were the future in 1981.
Reagan shut it all down.
Electric cars were the future in 2001.
Bush shut it all down.
Electric cars were the future in 2021.
Tesla is a dumpster fire.

If you want to know why people are sticking with fossil fuels, it’s pretty clear who is keeping them alive. Yes, that’s silly. Let’s get rid of the combustion engine and get in our electric cars.

Just don’t get into a Tesla unless you’re prepared to be misled by funny numbers straight into a tree and die in a fire.

Why put people into an electric clown car? That does not help bring electric cars to market faster, as it destroys trust in new cars and their manufacturers.

Perhaps the best take in the news so far has been the Chaser:

“When we say we want a fully driverless future, we mean it” said Tesla CEO, Elon Musk at a press conference on Monday. Musk harked back to his childhood days as the heir of a Zambian blood-diamond empire “this tactical disdain for human life is crucial for any entrepreneur looking to really embrace change”.

For my take on broader disinformation issues in Tesla marketing, see my earlier post on their CEO tactics.

Tesla CEO Gaslighting Autopilot Safety Failures

Update April 22, 2021: A statement from Consumer Reports’ senior director of auto testing, Jake Fisher confirms that the Tesla vehicles lack basic safety — fail to include a modern-day equivalent of a seat belt.

In our test, the system not only failed to make sure the driver was paying attention — it couldn’t even tell if there was a driver there at all.

Other manufacturers neither have the safety failures of Tesla, nor the exaggerated safety claims, nor a CEO who encourages known unsafe operation of his sub-par engineering.


“2 dead in Tesla crash after car ‘no one was driving’ hits tree”. Source: NBC

Just a few days ago on April 14th the CEO of Tesla tweeted a prediction:

Major improvements are being made to the vision stack every week. Beta button hopefully next month.

This is a “march of 9’s” trying to get probability of no injury above 99.999999% of miles for city driving. Production Autopilot is already above that for highway driving.

Production Beta

You might see a problem immediately with that prediction. “Production Autopilot” means it already is in production, yet the prior sentence was “Beta… next month”.

Can it both be in production and have vision a month away from beta? Also make special note of the highway driving reference. Production is being used as a very limited subset of production. It’s still being tested in the city because not ready while being production ready for highway, but all of it is called production while being unready?

This is very tortured marketing double-speak, to the point where Tesla language becomes meaningless.

Let’s move on to April 17th at 3:45PM when the CEO of Tesla was tweeting Autopilot claims about being standard on all Teslas, as part of a full endorsement of extremely bold marketing claims like this one:

Even when you’re driving manually, Autopilot is looking out for you

Hold that thought. No matter what, even manual mode, Autopilot is there. Got it? This is important in a minute.

Also this is not a statement about it being a production highway-only Autopilot. It is not specifying the beta button of vision of Autopilot. There is nothing anything about this or that version, in this or that situation.

This is a statement about ALL Autopilot versions on all Teslas.

ALWAYS on, looking out for you.

Standard. On ALL Teslas.

These are very BOLD claims.

Passive is active safety? What is this word soup?

Just to be clear about sources, this @WholeMarsBlog account tweeting safety claims is a Tesla promotional stunt operation.

It tweets things like “2.6s 0-60 mph” promoting extreme acceleration right next to a video called “Do not make the mistake of underestimating FSD @elonmusk”

Do not underestimate “full self driving”? Go 0-60 in 2.6s?

That seems ridiculously dangerous advice that will get people killed, maybe even launching them straight into a tree with no chance of surviving.

Here’s the associated video, a foreshadowing at this point.

To summarize, an account linked to the CEO explicitly has been trying to encourage Tesla owners to do highly dangerous performance and power tests on small public roads that lack markings.

Now hold those two thoughts together. We can see Tesla’s odd marketing system promoting: Autopilot is always looking out for you on all Tesla models without exception, and owners should try extreme tests on unmarked roads where underestimating Autopilot is called the “mistake” — drive dangerously.

See the connections?

I see the above introduction as evidence of invitation from Tesla (they certainly didn’t object) to use Autopilot for high performance stunts on small roads where even slight miscalculation could be disastrous.

Next, on April 17th just hours before yet another fatal Tesla accident, the CEO tweeted his rather crazy idea that a Tesla offers a lower chance of accident when it is compared to all automobile crash data combined.

Specifically, the CEO points to his own report that states:

NHTSA’s most recent data shows that in the United States there is an automobile crash every 484,000 miles.

Where does it show this? Most recent data means what? Are we talking about 2016?

This is what I see in the 2020 report, which presumably includes Teslas:

Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2019. Source: NHTSA

Tesla offers no citations that can be verified, no links, no copy of the recent data or even a date. Their claims are very vague, written into their own report that they publish, and we have no way of validating with them.

Also, what is defined by Tesla as a crash? Is it the same as the NHTSA? And why does Tesla say crash instead of the more meaningful metric of fatality or injury?

NHTSA publishes a lot of fatality data. Is every ding and bump on every vehicle of any kind being compared with just an “accident” for Tesla? All of it seems extremely, unquestionably misleading.

And the misuse of data comes below statements the company makes like “Tesla vehicles are engineered to be the safest cars in the world.” This is probability language. They are to be safe, when? Sometime in future? Are they not the safest yet and why not? Again misleading.

The reverse issue also comes to mind. If a child adds 2+2=4 a billion times, that doesn’t qualify them as ready to take a calculus exam.

However Tesla keeps boasting it has billions of miles “safely” traveled, as though 2+2 is magically supposed to be equivalent to actual complex driving conditions with advanced risks. It’s a logical fallacy, which seems intentionally misleading.

You can see the CEO pumps up generic Autopilot (all of them, every version, every car described as totally equivalent) as something that will prevent huge numbers of crashes and make an owner exponentially safer, based only on hand-wavy numbers

Now let’s watch after a crash happens and he immediately disowns his own product, splitting hairs about this or that version and claiming there’s no expectation of capability in any common situation.

His next tweet on the subject comes April 19th at 2:14PM when he rage tweets about insider information (secret logs) to dispute claims made by witnesses and reporters.

To recap, before a fatal accident the CEO describes Autopilot as a singular product across all Tesla that dramatically reduces risk of a crash no matter what. And then immediately following a fatal accident the CEO is frantically slicing and dicing to carve out exceptions:

  • Enabled
  • Purchased FSD
  • Standard Autopilot
  • Lane lines
  • This street

These caveats seem entirely disingenuous compared with just a day prior when everything was being heavily marketed as safer without any detail, any warning, any common sense or transparency.

Note that the WSJ report that prompted the tweet is gathering far lower social numbers than the CEO’s own network effects, which helps explain how and why he pushes selfish narratives even while admitting facts are not yet known.

The CEO is trying to shape beliefs and undermine the voice of professionals to get ahead of the facts being reported accurately.

Now just imagine if the CEO cared about safety. On April 17th he could have tweeted what he was saying on the 19th instead:

Dear loyal fans, just so you are aware your Standard Autopilot isn’t like Purchased FSD and it won’t turn on unless it sees something that looks like a lane line…don’t overestimate its abilities. In fact, it doesn’t turn on for a minute or more so you could be in grave danger.

Big difference right? It’s much better than that very misleading “always on” and “safest car in the world” puffery that led right into another tragic fatality.

Seriously, why didn’t his tweets on the 17th have a ton of couched language and caveats like the 19th?

I’ll tell you why, the CEO is pushing disinformation before a fatality and then more disinformation after a fatality.

Disinformation from a CEO

Let’s break down a few simple and clear problems with the CEO statement. Here is is again:

First, the CEO invokes lane lines only when he replies to the tweet. That means he completely side-steps the mention of safety measures. He knows there are widespread abuses and bypasses of the “in place” weighted seat and steering wheel feedback measures.

We know the CEO regularly promotes random evidence of people who promote him, including people who practice hands-off driving, and we should never be surprised his followers will do exactly what he promotes.

The CEO basically likes and shares marketing material made by Tesla drivers who do not pay attention, so he’s creating a movement of bad drivers who practice unsafe driving and ignore warnings. Wired very clearly showed how a 60 Minutes segment with the CEO promoted unsafe driving.

Even Elon Musk Abuses Tesla’s Autopilot. Musk’s ’60 Minutes’ interview risks making the public even more confused about how to safely use the semi-autonomous system.

We clearly see in his tweet response that he neither reiterates the safety measure claims, nor condemns or even acknowledges the well-known flaws in Tesla engineering.

Instead he tries to narrow the discussion down to just lines on the road. Don’t let him avoid a real safety issue here.

In June of 2019 a widely circulated video showed a Tesla operating with nobody in the driver seat.

…should be pretty damn easy to implement [prevention controls], and all the hardware to do so is already in the car. So why aren’t they doing that? That would keep dangerous bullshit like this from happening. Videos like this… should be a big fat wake-up call that these systems are way too easy to abuse… and sooner or later, wrecks will happen. These systems are not designed to be used like this; they can stop working at any time, for any number of reasons. They can make bad decisions that require a human to jump in to correct. They are not for this. I reached out to Tesla for comment, and they pointed me to the same thing they always say in these circumstances, which basically boils down to “don’t do this.”

September of 2020 a widely circulated video showed people drinking in a Tesla at high speed with nobody in the driver seat.

This isn’t the first time blurrblake has posted reckless behavior with the Tesla…. He has another video up showing a teddy bear behind the wheel with a dude reclining in the front passenger seat.

Show me the CEO condemnation, a call for regulation, of an owner putting their teddy bear behind the wheel in a sheer mockery of Tesla’s negligent safety engineering.

March of 2021 again a story hit the news of teenagers in a Tesla, with nobody in the driver seat, that runs into a police car.

That’s right, a Tesla crashed into a police car (reversing directly into it) after being stopped for driving on the wrong side of the road ! Again, let me point out that police found nobody in the driver seat of a car that crashed into their police car. I didn’t find any CEO tweets about “lane line” or versions of Autopilot.

Why was a new Tesla driving on the wrong side of the road with nobody in the driver seat, let alone crashing into a police car with its safety lights flashing?

And in another case during March 2021, Tesla gave an owner ability to summon the car remotely. When they used the feature the Tesla nearly ran over a pregnant woman with a toddler. The tone-deaf official response to this incident was that someone should be in the driver seat (completely contradicting their own feature designed on the principle that nobody is in the car).

People sometimes seem to point out how the CEO begs for regulation of AI, talks about AI being bad if unregulated, yet those same people never seem to criticize the CEO for failing to lift a finger himself to regulate and shut down these simple bad behavior examples right here right now.

Regulation by others wouldn’t even be needed if Tesla would just engineer real and basic security.

The CEO for example calls seat belts an obviously good thing nobody should ever have delayed, but there’s ample evidence that he’s failing to put in today’s seat belt equivalent. Very mixed messaging. Seat belts are a restraint, reducing freedom of movement, and the CEO is claiming he believes in them while failing to restrain people.

There must be a reason the CEO avoids deploying better safety while also telling everyone it’s stupid to delay better safety.

Second, lines may be needed to turn on. Ok. Now explain if Autopilot can continue without lines. More to the obvious point, does a line have to be seen for a second or a minute? The CEO doesn’t make any of this detailed distinction, while pretending to care about facts. In other words if a line is erroneously detected then we assume Autopilot is enabled. Done. His argument is cooked.

Third, what’s a line? WHAT IS A LINE? Come on people. You can’t take any statement from this CEO at face value. He is talking about lines like it’s some fact, when Autopilot has no real idea of what a line is. Again his argument is cooked.

Sorry, but this is such an incredibly important point about the CEO’s deceptive methods as to require shouting again WHAT IS A LINE?

Anything can be read as a line if a system is dumb enough and Tesla has repeatedly been proven to have extremely dumb mistakes. It will see lines where there are none, and sometimes it doesn’t see double-yellow lines.

Fourth, the database logs can be wrong/corrupted especially if they’re being handled privately and opaquely to serve the CEO’s agenda. That statement was “logs recovered so far”. Such a statement is extremely poor form, why say anything at all?

The CEO is actively failing to turn data over to police to be validated and instead trying to curry favor with his loyalists by yelling partial truths and attacking journalists. Such behavior is extremely suspicious, as the CEO is withholding information while at the same time knowing full well that facts would be better stated by independent investigators.

Local police responded to the CEO tweets with “if he has already pulled the data, he hasn’t told us that.”

Why isn’t the CEO of Tesla working WITH investigators instead of trying to keep data secret and control the narrative, not to mention violate investigation protocols?

…the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which removed Tesla as a party to an earlier investigation into a fatal crash in 2018 after the company made public details of the probe without authorisation.

The police meanwhile are saying what we know is very likely to be true.

We have witness statements from people that said they left to test drive the vehicle without a driver and to show the friend how it can drive itself.

Let’s not forget also this CEO is also the same guy who in March 2020 tweeted disinformation “Kids are essentially immune” to COVID19. Today we read stories that are the opposite.

…government data from Brazil suggest that over 800 children under age 9 have died of Covid-19, an expert estimates that the death toll is nearly three times higher…

Thousands of children dying from pandemic after the Tesla CEO told the world to treat them as immune. Essentially immune? That’s double-speak again like saying Autopilot is in production meaning highway only because still testing urban and in a month from now it will achieve beta.

Or double-speak like saying Autopilot makes every Tesla owner safer always, except in this one road or this one car because of some person.

Who trusts his data, his grasp of responsibility for words and his predictions?

Just as a quick reminder, this crash is the 28th for Tesla to be investigated by the NHTSA. And in 2013 when this Model S was released the CEO called it the safest car on the road. Since then as many as 16 deaths have been alleged to be during Autopilot.

Fifth, the location, timing (9:30P) and style of the accident suggests extremely rapid acceleration that didn’t turn to follow the road and instead went in a straight line into a tree.

This is consistent with someone trying to test/push extreme performance “capabilities” of the car (as promoted and encouraged by the CEO above and many times before), which everyone knows would include people trying to push Autopilot (as recorded by witnesses).

Remember those thoughts I asked you to hold all the way up at the top of this post? A reasonable person listening to “Autopilot is always on and much safer than human” and watching videos of “Don’t underestimate FSD” next to comments about blazing acceleration times… it pretty obviously adds up to Tesla creating this exact scenario.

Tesla owners dispute CEO claims

Some of this already has been explored by owners of Tesla vehicles who started uploading proofs of their car operating on autopilot with no lines on a road.

In one thread on Twitter the owner of a 2020 Model X with Autopilot and FSD Capability shares his findings, seemingly contradicting Tesla’s CEO extremely rushed and brash statements.

@LyftGift Part One

7:55am, I returned to the parking lot to show you folks how the Autopilot engages with no lines marked on the road as @elonmusk claims is necessary. I engaged autopilot without an issue. I didn’t post this video right away, because I wanted to see how y’all would twist it.

@LyftGift Part Two

Show me a line. Any line. Show me a speed limit sign. Any sign.

@LyftGift then reiterates again with a screenshot: “At 2:15 both icons are activated. Cruise and AP” with no lines on the road.

Something worth noting here, because the tiny details sometimes matter, is the kind of incongruity in Tesla vehicle features.

The CEO is saying the base Autopilot without FSD shouldn’t activate without lines, yet @LyftGyft gives us two important counter-points.

We see someone not only upload proof of Autopilot without lines, it is in a 2020 Model X performance, with free unlimited premium connectivity.

An eagle-eyed observer (as I said these details tend to matter, if not confuse everything) asked how that configuration is possible given Tesla officially discontinued it in mid-2018.

@LyftGift replies “Tesla hooked me up”.

So let’s all admit for the sake of honesty here, since Tesla bends its rules arbitrarily to say what is or is not available on a car, it is really hard to trust anything the CEO might say he knows or believes about any car.

Was it base Autopilot or is he just saying that because he hasn’t found out “yet” in his extremely early announcements that someone at Tesla “hooked” a modification for the owner and didn’t report it.

22 Hammock Dunes Place

Maps show that the empty wooded lot where the car exploded had desolate, simple lanes, near a golf club, where the roads were in perfect condition. The only complication seems to be the roads are constantly curved.

The car allegedly only went several hundred yards on one “S” curve and lost control, before exploding on impact with a tree. The short narrow path and turn suggests rapid acceleration that we’ve read about in other fatal Tesla crash and burn reports.

I would guess the Tesla owners thought they had chosen a particular safe place to do some extreme Autopilot testing to show off the car.

Apple satellite imagery looks like this:

Google StreetView shows these areas aren’t being mapped, which honestly says to me traffic is very low including police and thus a prime area for vehicle stunts:

Zillow offers a rather spooky red arrow in their description of the lot, also pointing roughly to where the burning car was found.

And I see lines, do you see lines?

Howabout in this view? Do you see lines plausibly indicating side of a road?

Ok, now this will surely blow your mind. The men who allegedly told others they were going to show off the Autopilot capability on this road were driving at night.

Look closely at the yellow light reflecting on this curve of the road like a yellow… wait for it… line!

Emergency services personnel stand near the site of the Tesla vehicle crash in Spring, Texas, on April 17, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

Fighting the Fire

The Houston Chronicle quotes the firefighters in self-contradictory statements, which is actually kind of important to the investigation.

With respect to the fire fight, unfortunately, those rumors grew out way of control. It did not take us four hours to put out the blaze. Our guys got there and put down the fire within two to three minutes, enough to see the vehicle had occupants

This suggests firefighters had a very good idea of where the passengers were in the vehicle and how they were impacted, when everyone was reporting nobody in the driver seat.

The firefighter then goes on to say fighting the fire took several hours after all, but the technical description means it wasn’t live flames, just the ongoing possibility of live flames. Indeed, other Tesla after crashes have reignited multiple times over several hours if not longer.

Buck said what is termed in the firefighting profession as “final extinguishment” of the vehicle — a 2019 Tesla — took several hours, but that classification does not mean the vehicle was out-of-control or had live flames.

And then a little bit later…

…every once in a while, the (battery) reaction would flame.

It wasn’t on fire for more than three minutes. It could have reignited so we were on it for several hours. It was reigniting every once in a while.

So to be clear, the car was a serious fire hazard for hours yet burned intensely only for minutes. Technically it did burn for hours (much like an ember is burning, even when no flames are present) although also technically the fire fighters prefer to say it was a controlled burn.

Conclusion

As I’ve posted on this blog before

Tesla, without a question, has a way higher incidence of fire deaths than other cars.

There already are many twists to this new story (pun not intended) because the CEO of Tesla is peddling disinformation and misleading people — claiming Autopilot is always there and will save the world until it doesn’t and then backpedaling to “there was no Autopilot” and tightly controlling all the messaging and data.

Seems to fit the bill for gaslighting. Autopilot is both on always but off, as the car is to be safest yet smashed into a tree and on fire for minutes and burning for hours.

Tesla’s production highway tested beta manual autopilot using passive active safety literally couldn’t see a tree for the forest.