Leonardo de Vinci is a cooler name than Elon Musk. There’s a flow to the words, possibly instilled by all the time that has passed since he left the planet and also the number of billions of times that his name has been repeated. Leonardo would be if he were living today, as astounded to hear about his genius and inventions as Musk will be if time travel is ever perfected and he can come back. But Leonardo in his time wasn’t popular. He had to make it financially by designing instruments of death and destruction for war. Most of his engineering projects, despite how self-evidently brilliant as they are considered today, languished unbuilt for all of his life. Leonardo da Vinci was hounded from one robber baron’s small geographic area of Italy to another. He wasn’t even able to spend his last years in Italy.

What is it about genius? It’s all about demonstrated intellect, performance and then perception. It’s the perception part that kills. The world of humans was always, and remains, intensely competitive. That makes the work of genius vital for one bit of humanity to gain advantage or pull ahead of another. The genius him or herself, however, is secretly resented while publicly held in awe. The results of the genius are in vast demand unless those results diminish the prospects of existing structures already owned by others. The competition is never over and seldom admitted to. For example, people suing other people for money over a myriad assortment of causes and reasons seldom are truly suing for the money. They are suing so other people will not have to go through what they did. They all quietly accept the money won in a successful lawsuit result, however. In the world of creative and constructive genius, the product of the genius is often so harshly fought over that the genius is relegated to nearly street person status, or can actually end up being a street person walking across the very bridge of brilliance he or she built. To use another example, credits in Hollywood are often fought over. Possibly only about thirty percent of what comes across television sets or movie screens is ever written by the people given credit for the work. They are paid, but that pay includes a confidentiality agreement that they are forced to sign in order to receive the money.

Elon Musk is a genius. He’s also a renaissance polymath sort of very rare genius, in that his talents span many arts and spectrums. He’s a genius at electricity (like Tesla, another genius who died poor without credit for just about anything, yet this computer I’m writing on is running because of one of his inventions), engineering, batteries, space propulsion and more. His company, Tesla Motors, is worth more than General Motors but is under constant attack to be dragged back and stripped of everything. That is the world of humanity. Musk SpaceX program is the only one slated to replace the Soviet Era rocket engines American astronauts have been using to go to space. The U.S. has been buying those old technology engines from Russia since 1997 and currently has contracts to keep buying the same junk engines past the year 2025. Why buy second class engines from a country that is tantamount to being an open enemy? The competition. Some American businessmen and some American politicians are making billions buying space junk and calling it the Atlas, Delta and other old Americanized names that have solid U.S. reputations. Elon Musk will change all that if he survives.

Tesla Motors began producing the Tesla 3, costing about the same as the Chevy Volt, except the Tesla goes 350 miles on a charge while the Chevy Volt goes 72. The cars aren’t even close to comparable, but the Volt, built by General Motors, is highly touted while the Tesla is attacked. Why, because he’s a genius. He sent a miniature submarine to help save the kids in Thailand. The senior diver didn’t want to use it. He wanted to save the kids and be famous himself. Competition. Tesla was not credited for spending millions to make and send the sub. He was, instead, derided for being a crackpot. Musk sent millions of dollars worth of his special home batteries to Puerto Rico and he did it for nothing, including shipping. He was criticized for not doing more while Donald Trump, spending not one cent of his own money, got a pass. Competition.

Elon Musk, against all capitalistic principles of working only for profit, is also building a special high-tech high-speed transportation system that could connect all major population centers throughout the county in hours instead of days or weeks. His new Tesla cars are all designed to come with fully automatic driving systems and are scheduled to be available by the end of August. Automatic driving would appear to compete with high-speed inter-city transportation systems, but not to Elon Musk. He’s a genius and the products of his genius will be with humanity for some time to come. Elon Musk may not. Competition.

~ James Strauss

Sign up for Updates