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“One Day Longer and Those 13 Boys Would Be Dead” (zeit.de)
694 points by Tomte on July 10, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 272 comments

Good lord, I am hyperventilating just reading this. The people that went in and saved these boys are amazing. I am glad the author took the time to pull this together to share the story of the divers as well. Absolutely amazing - mind-boggling amazing - what dedicated, skilled, selfless people can do.

I was wondering how far they had to dive as soon as I started reading, and then when they finally revealed it I was like "holy hell!"

It was mentioned that one of the drivers damaged his gear going in, and that's the case where it's something attached to your body, which you can develop a fair amount of feeling for, like you get used to driving a car and just know how wide it is. I can't imagine how it must feel to drag along a sedated human when you can't see anything. There must have been situations where you accidentally hit some obstacle with one of the kids and then this dreaded feeling of not knowing if you displaced the mask and are now dragging a kid drowning in it's sleep across the mud for another hour.

As cheesy as it might sound, this is one of these rare stories that restore faith in humanity. Absolutely amazing.

Did you see the video that was linked where they go back through the path they swam after the water cleared out? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zGEmSHP4Idw&list=UUSPfkBf-K2vQ...

I'd be too scared to go through there dry. That's insane.

Wow. These videos bring home how insane the rescue was. I could not imagine anyone going through those tunnels with zero visibility and diving equipment, let alone while moving a sedated person along as well.

Here the diver's blog post to accompany these videos: https://www.mikkopaasi.com/post/return-to-tham-luang-cave

Excellent charts and animations at the SCMP.


My response was the same. Those divers are very high quality humans.

I feel good people like that walk among us.

There is a couple of other stories that comes to mind, unfortunately both of them were about recovering the dead.

"Raising the Dead" is about the accidental discovery of a diver in SA, and the recovery efforts there. [1]

"The cave divers who went back for their friends" is about a trio of finns who went back into a Norwegian underwater cave system to recover two friends who got stuck and died there. [2]

[1] - https://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/water-activi...

[2] - https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36097300

This one is more a story of dumb luck, but there was a case of a crew member surviving for 2.5 days in an air pocket in his sunken ship:


He was discovered by divers hired to investigate the sinking and recover the bodies.

Every time I watch that I get so emotional. Imagine being in his shoes. Stuck underwater for days, knowing that you are most likely going to die there. Then just by dumb luck you are rescued. The relief this man must have felt.

That video is classic. My favorite part is when the diver sees the man and “mission control” thinks the diver is panicking from seeing a corpse and tries to get him to calm down, then the swearing while they’re trying to figure out what to do.

How about "What is your rank?" "I'm the cook" "You're the cook?" "Yes sir" "They always survive..."

I just want to re-iterate that these are some of the same divers involved with the thai cave rescue in TFA

4 friends of friends died in a flooded cave in my home town.


I had been hearing about the cave, and had been invited to go there a couple of weeks before this happened. I decided not to go because it didn't sound safe. I was concerned about the oxygen content of the air pocket and decided it was too dangerous.

Smart person. You have the risk/reward thing figured out.

There is a great documentary about the Finnish cave divers. "Diving into the unknown": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diving_into_the_Unknown

"Last breath" is also a really good documentary about rescue under water https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Breath_(2019_film)

Both of these I rate 5/5

I'm just going to toss this here because I really enjoyed the audiobook:

Shadow Divers - The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II


This book is absolutely incredible. I just read it recently. I didn’t expect to like it that much (the description doesn’t sound that interesting), but Kurson is such an excellent author that he totally hooked me. Highly recommended.

> ...as a teenager, I caused the death of a friend and that accident has marked my life. I had largely blocked it out until this mission in Thailand.

Whoo. This guy must have gone through so much mental stress during this time.

This is such an awe inspiring story, and at the same time it made me sad.

It reminded me of the story of a young Rwandan girl who was about the same age as those trapped boys when she and her family escaped to the Congolese jungle … I can’t remember her name but she ultimately survived and has become a public activist.

She tells her story now frequently and I remember her saying that she though the entire world must have suffered some catastrophe because no one was coming to save them.

Later she found out it was just because no one really cared enough to save them.

Imagine if we treated all lives with such value, and applied the same heroism and bravery to their rescue.

Intriguing take.

Priorities. Our world could be very different given a reconsideration of what is worth what.

And some of us live more in that world, lucky to have agency, fellowship, resources to make it work.

Humanity is partitioned. Not all sets makes sense.

Could you/someone post the link to the article or her name?

I can't for the life of me find the quote nor remember where I originally saw it. I thought it was something like a ted talk or at least a review of a ted talk, but I can't find it now :( that sentiment certainly stuck with me though, the idea that this girl assumed that, if they could, someone would have come to help, but that they had actually been abandoned which was a harsh realisation she came to later.

It's only after the rescue that they can give retrospectives on exactly how difficult things were at the time. My utmost respect goes out to each of these heroes for doing what needed to be done even at the possible cost of their own lives.

I was staying on the small island in Thailand where Mikko lives in when he returned from the caves.

Word had obviously spread through the local Thai community that he was on the passenger ferry and there must have been 100 of them lining the streets to cheer him for his bravery once he arrived.

It was a really touching thing to see.

“ Together with Finnish journalist Johanna Elomaa, I wrote the book "Sukellus Valoon" (Diving into the Light) about my experiences during the rescue mission and how it changed my life”

^ From page 2 of the article. I Googled for this book but wasn’t able to find anywhere to buy it. Supposed to have been published in 2018. Perhaps no English version yet... was anyone able to find the book?

Ah thanks! It’s unclear whether there is an English version yet. From all indications on that page it appears perhaps not. Also the “Order here” link appears non-functioning (at least on iOS Chrome).

I’d bet an English version will be not too far in the future (I hope!)


Looks like there's only a Finnish original issue and a Swedish translation published so far.

Is there a film being made of this yet?

No idea why you got downvoted so much, but yes it’s out, it’s called The Cave

Didn’t downvote, but I also share the weird malaise when every remarkable event is expected to become a movie.

In this case a the diver (co-?)wrote a book, so a movie is just another step in that direction and he seems cool with it. It would be shitty though to have a movie in any other circumstance.

Yeah, seemed like a fairly reasonable question!

Thanks! I wonder if it gives as chilling a representation as this article. I will go find out!

Thirteen Lives is now in production with a good cast and Ron Howard as director. Likely to be released around the middle of 2022

Yes. It is being made by Elon Musk. Who is undoubtedly the misunderstood hero of this whole situation, of course.

(/s, if it wasn't obvious).

Heroes get their hands dirty, and risk their lives. As opposed to certain CEOs who see the world as a nice background for photo opportunities to boost their own ego.

From the article, the fragment about the SF2 sidemount rebreather:

> There are only a few of these computer-controlled devices in the world.

From quick googling I found out that this type of rebreather is "certainly the most popular Sidemount rebreather in the world." [1]. It is relatively inexpensive also (7k EUR). Why are there only a few of them in the world then? Is he talking about some special, modified type of it?

[1] https://www.divestock.com/scuba-force-sf2-sidemount-rebreath...

I still don't get it. The tunnels were too narrow near the ceilling, but wide near the floor. The divers could not keep at the floor because they could not navigate due to zero visibility, zero communication and no tether points.

Would not a sonar help? A full spacesuit-like helmet with air to be able to talk via radio? Laying down some flexible tunnels that could be inflated with air or maybe just pumped with clear water to gain visibility? So many ideas come to mind, but they chose the most difficult transport of sedated and tied up kids ever. I assume they had a good reason, but still do not understand it.

I’ve had very limited experience of low/no visibility diving - it’s hard to overstate how incredibly difficult it is to accomplish anything. You can’t see anything, you can only hear your own loud disorienting breathing, you can’t feel gravity, your sense of time goes completely out of the window. It makes moving very short distances hilariously slow. You constantly have to keep yourself oriented in full 3D space. If I had dropped something 10 centimetres from my face, I may have never found it. Trying to map out alternate routes through kilometres of unknown cave system with incredible time pressure? It’s a miracle they found even one route.

> Would not a sonar help?

Portable sonar systems with in-helmet displays were put in use by the US Navy only last year: https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2021/03/us-navy-teams-w...

> A full spacesuit-like helmet with air to be able to talk via radio?

Would fuck up your buoyancy, but there are systems where you have only an air pockt around your mouth. But the range would be so low as to be nearly useless inside a cave.

> Laying down some flexible tunnels that could be inflated with air or maybe just pumped with clear water to gain visibility?

Even assuming that you had those already available, laying them would be a very slow process, and they would be a hindrance rather than help in very narrow passages.

This may be a somewhat silly question, but why couldn't they just have used flashlights? I'm sure there's an obvious reason, but I don't know what it is.

They do, but in zero viz there's so much crap suspended in the water that you literally can't see anything more than an inch in front of your face. Its the worst driving-into-a-snowstorm problem you can imagine.

I assumed it's not just darkness but mud.

I assume it wasn't just darkness they were dealing with, but also that the water was so muddy it became opaque, in which case lights wouldn't have helped them.

Ah of course, yeah that must be it.


> Even assuming that you had those already available, laying them would be a very slow process, and they would be a hindrance rather than help in very narrow passages.

The point would be to use them so that there is no necessity to go through narrow passage. The diver says that when boys went in, they walked through wide openings on bottom.

But, they were probably impractical for other reasons.

> I still don't get it.

Clearly not. Why does someone always have to assume they know better?

> they chose the most difficult transport

What are you even basing this statement on?

I do not assume I know better. I am just asking why any of these ideas would not work.

> What are you even basing this statement on?

As I understand it, the transport was immensely difficult. The divers and the rescued kids were at great danger. It is unbelievable to me they managed to save them without any special solution.

I'm sorry if my comment was misunderstood.

How do you know that this wasn't the easiest/only option? (Since you said it was the hardest).

From the article:

>Later, after the water had run off, you could see that down at the bottom, where the boys walked in, there were much larger gaps. But the divers couldn’t attach anything to the muddy bottom when laying out the guide lines. They had to follow along the ceiling. The only path they found was through the narrow passageways.

As I understand it, they had to use the narrow passages at the top because they were not able to discover the wide gaps near the bottom. I assume some equipment could help with that making the transport easier once a more comfortable path was found.

> I assume some equipment could help with that making the transport easier once a more comfortable path was found.

Or maybe your assumptions are wrong.

Maybe. That's why I am trying to discuss. To find out why are they wrong.

Then you should be asking an entirely different class of questions.

A sonar wouldn't help in such a pressing situation. The sonar would only provide a map that would still need to be interpreted, and wouldn't solve the actual problem of transporting the boys.

Those "helmets" exist, but helmets as such are used in commercial diving with a tether to the diver. Not very practical to have it running along the cave for multiple divers. The full face masks that allow that are mainly used in open circuit diving and are bulky. I don't know if the pros/cons would make a huge difference.

At one point I believe Tesla or just Musk were planning and developing a pod to carry each boy, but the tunnels and sumps were so narrow that they wouldn't be able to make the turns.

Having tunnels with compressed air to inflate them would have similar issues with the bends. Not to mention the amount of gas and pressure needed to displace all that water.

I guess they took the most direct and logistically available option. I'm sure it will be a case study for the future.

Im amazed that you come to the conclusion that the people who work with this and risked their lives didn't have these obvious ideas rather than there is reasons why they wouldn't work that you dont understand.

What? The GP didn't come to that conclusion. It's pretty clear to me they're trying to understand the thought process of the rescuers and why they rejected the obvious ideas. Asking an expert why they decided against something obvious is a great way to learn what works and what doesn't work. It doesn't mean you're insinuating the expert is an idiot.

You ask as if these people were working with Iron Man and Jarvis. The things you describe would take at least weeks to build. “Full space suit like helmet with air to be able to talk over radio “ retrofitted to work with whatever dive equipment they had loll. What else? Maybe they could have a Mac n cheese dispenser in the side too

From the article:

> There was even a discussion about leaving the 12 kids and the football coach inside the cave for the whole rainy season and providing them with food and supplies from outside for months.

I suppose building the equipment for few weeks is better than waiting for months to end of rainy season.

But that plan was rejected. It is not like they would conclude that staying there for long is good idea.

> Would not a sonar help?

I'm not even sure what you're envisioning but something lightweight and not bulky that is capable of producing sonar images similar to whatever the detectors were in Aliens doesn't exist. And it was zero viz and in completely zero viz you can barely see your hand in front of your mask, assuming you have illumination.

> A full spacesuit-like helmet with air to be able to talk via radio?

That creates a dead space that fills up with CO2, you'd need to actively pump that out through the rebreather which now creates more things to bash into rock and fail and kill you, plus generates more bulk which is the last thing you want into those tight caves.

You can use a full face mask (FFM) that has comms with a rebreather but in a single file cave there's no point and cave divers know how to communicate in single file in zero viz by touch contact. And there's not much to communicate since either you're moving or you're temporarily stuck and the person behind you can't really help you much. With a rebreather you can also talk pretty well in water if you're just close enough to each other. I've also managed to communicate effectively by talking into a normal scuba regulator as well, without having to write anything down.

> Laying down some flexible tunnels that could be inflated with air or maybe just pumped with clear water to gain visibility?

That would probably take weeks and you'd be fighting the pressure of the incoming water inside of the cave. Air probably wouldn't work at all, you'd need to build a pressure differential airlock so that's likely impossibly complicated. Water might work if you built a reservoir at a higher altitude to gain pressure, but them you need to pump the water up there and you need flexible inflatable tubing that can hold a couple atmospheres of pressure and is large enough for a human, and I think I'd prefer to be surrounded by rock rather than by saran wrap that could fail and I'd get entangled it in the shredded plastic and drown. No thanks. As evidenced by the successful recovery, zero viz can be dealt with.

> So many ideas come to mind, but they chose the most difficult transport of sedated and tied up kids ever. I assume they had a good reason, but still do not understand it.

They're all trained at more or less doing that, they've been through the environment, and they've all been through rescue training to drag an unconscious buddy out of the cave. Strapping the kids down, giving them sedatives and putting a FFM on them solved all the problems of taking someone out of the cave that wasn't trained in diving at all. It gives you the smallest package to drag out of the cave along with giving you access to the kids. The coffin that Musk was proposing was more or less just that. By trying to keep the kids dry, now you have CO2 problems, you need a scrubber in the coffin and you need strong enough walls to deal with the pressure differential, that creates bulk and makes it more difficult to move through the restrictions, and if anything goes wrong the kids suffocate and die and there's no access to them at all.

From the perspective of a trained cave diver the solution that they used was nearly perfect.

I think it was also filled with mud , or is it what you cover with the “no tether points” part ?

My take away from the article is that there could have been many more solutions, some more clever, some involving more gear etc., but they were completely short of time and verified information to come up with other viable plans.

Basically any other plan would have needed more checks, preparation, waiting for the gear to be ready, rehearsal, etc. And as said in the beginning of the interview, they feared the kids would be dead any day. As I get it, that’s also why civilians where chosen instead of the pro rescue team, because they were the only one with appropriate gear and experience at that moment in that place.

> filled with mud

As I understood there was mud layer that prevented the divers to navigate near the bottom (no way to tie a string as to anchor point to not get lost in zero visibility, no way to feel where the bottom is, etc.). But not so much mud that only the narrow passage was left.

> And as said in the beginning of the interview, they feared the kids would be dead any day

They would be dead if they did not find them on the last day, as it was considered to stop the search. Once the kids were found and supplied with food they had enough time to plan, prepare, rehease, re-check and execute the rescue.

Season one of the podcast "Against all odds" is also about this.


It’s such an incredible, but also well balanced, very down to earth story.

The rescuer is so diligent in putting things into perspective, especially regarding the future repercussions on cave diving or why they had to do it.

Personally I was only remembering Elon Musk’s jerkiness from the whole story, and am so glad to be reminded there are so many more positive takeaways, incredibly brave and supportive people working together and putting in all they have to make it work despite the odds.

Also RIP the diver who lost his life a few days before while preparing for the rescue.

I'm not even going to click through to any fricking article or video: Just reading the comments here gives me quite enough claustrophobic shivers.

What effect did the sedation have? Were they still conscious?

I don't think so, towards the end the diver stated:

> If need be, we were to give them another shot of ketamine in case they were waking up.

being on ketamine while trapped in a cave would be ammmmaaaaazzziinnngg (ly terrifying)

On the way down from some ketamine I fell asleep in my VR headset while virtually inside someone else's room (high Res photogrammetry), that was spooky - took me a while to work out why I couldn't see my arms.

There's a difference between a k-hole and being sedated..

Yea this sounded pretty strange to me,

Im aware sedation slows breathing down, so some oxygen can be saved if human attached to tank is not hyperventilating for hours,

Pretty crazy the kids were sedated and hands bound and feet tied!

The divers said why, they had previously rescued two adults from that cave in a much easier tunnel, but the adults panicked underwater and ripped their masks off. The people you're saving can easily kill you too if they hit your mask.

Yeah just in Open Water rescue course you learn that people will panic and reject all their gear, including the regulator that could keep them alive, and will start to rip your gear off and try to take you with them.

One of those things that you have to consider, particularly if you don't know the person that you're trying to rescue is at what point you're basically going to wind up fighting back and possibly intentionally drown the other person so that you survive. If the person is on the surface of the water and you have working scuba gear this can be as simple though as just descending and they'll stop trying to kill you. I've thought about the problem if you're in a cave and someone is nearly OOA and panicking and what would have to happen, but that's unlikely enough of a situation that hopefully I'll never have to worry about it.

Its real obvious to me why the kids were strapped down and pumped full of happy drugs.

If I remember correctly, in my diver training we were instructed if someone was in need of saving to grab them from the back by the hair and drag them behind you to safety. That way there is minimal chance of the person freaking out and dealing you any damage.

Grab them by the tank valve on their back and hook your knees around their tank and ride them like a bucking bronco. You still need to be ready to get away from them if they don't calm down. And that assumes you're able to get behind them in the first place.

From wikipedia:

«The effect of ketamine on the respiratory and circulatory systems is different from that of other anesthetics. It suppresses breathing much less than most other available anesthetics.[29] When used at anesthetic doses, ketamine usually stimulates rather than depresses the circulatory system.»

Probably the last thing you would want is an untrained kid to panic during the rescue. They would most likely kill both themselves and their rescuers in the process.

Yes especially during cavediving, it's difficult enough for an experienced diver, and panicking / flailing individuals can drown would-be rescuers in pools.

The purpose of the ketamine vs other analgesics is you don't need to intubate or monitor respiratory system nearly as much as you do for say, propofol.

That's only one page.

It redirected to a paywall when I clicked it. (But it was that exact link, before the redirect. Strange.)

Someone archived it too, eventually. Looks like archive.is/archive.today rewrites links to URLs it has archived.

and if you click the link to the second page you get to ... the second page.

Thank you.

It's difficult to find the right words. Just reading this felt like a million times more intense than anything I ever experienced. I felt the stress and claustrophobia the whole time as I was reading it. Just wow.

Except Elon Musk is a total juvenile jackass. Those words are easy to find. It's a pity he has no shame.

The most harrowing thing I have read in a long time. I can't even begin to fathom the immense bravery of these divers - and that of the boys. I didn't really follow the Musk bit of the story, but the fact that he had the audacity to shitpost about any of these guys make me think vastly less of him (and I'm usually in the Musk-respecter camp)

When Musk first appeared I was hugely supportive. Definitely a fan of what he was doing both with SpaceX and Tesla.

I'm still a fan of what those companies are doing but Elon has destroyed my view of him with his own behavior and words. We should stop turning a blind eye to his labor practices. Likewise, we should give the engineers and other workers that are actually accomplishing these things more credit, vs pretending it's one lone genius. Tom Mueller in particular deserves far more credit.

> We should stop turning a blind eye to his labor practices. Likewise, we should give the engineers and other workers that are actually accomplishing these things more credit, vs pretending it's one lone genius.

We also need to hold him to account when Musk tries to ruin the lives of his employees who speak up about what goes on in his companies. He even tried to frame one of them as a mass shooter to police[1] in an effort to get them SWAT'd.

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-03-13/when-elon...

Source does not support your claim. It says that an anonymous tip got the employee swatted.

Musk has a history of going after people who critisize him in public. He (and his staff) have again and again attacked journalists, former employees, and anyone else who said anything bad about Tesla or Musk. A common thread is that they always try to present critics as liars and try to destroy their reputation.

It's happened so often, that we must assume it's their standard method of operation.

And whether that call was made by Musk himself or someone he instructed to ruin that persons life doesn't really make a difference. The fact is that Musk himself or one of his bullies lied to the police and they got away with it.

> Musk has a history of going after people who critisize him in public.

Does he? Can you name three cases?

> He (and his staff) have again and again attacked journalists, former employees, and anyone else who said anything bad about Tesla or Musk.

Again, can you name three cases where Musk went after a journalist or former employees, and we know, beyond reasonable doubt, that the victim was right - and not, in fact, lying through their teeth?

I ask because there is documented history of the reverse happening. Consider:

1. Top Gear did a hit piece on their first car, lying about its range (55 vs. 200 miles). This doesn't sound serious until you realize that, back then, people didn't believe in electric cars, mostly because of range worries. This kind of bullshit was arguably life-threatening not just to Tesla, but to the entire EV industry.

Anyway, Tesla sued for libel and lost[0]. Here's a kicker: they lost because the judge deemed Top Gear is an entertainment show and not documentary, therefore they're not obliged to be factually accurate.

2. The incident with Top Gear made Tesla install telemetry in the cars given out for test drives; this came in handy few years later, when John Broder from New York Times decided to publish a hit piece on Model S[1]. Tesla then released data from the logs, directly contradicting the story, and demonstrating that Broder put in extensive effort to fabricate the bad results he then reported on.

I can't blame them from being a bit sensitive after situations like these. For the past decade, there were, and still are, a lot of people standing to make boatloads of money from bringing Tesla and the EV market down.


[0] - https://www.wired.com/2012/02/tesla-vs-top-gear/

[1] - https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/feb/14/tesla-pos...

What the heck are you talking about, Tesla failed at Top Gear because when you drive the car hard on laps (which is what TG was mostly doing), just like any other electric car the theoretical range goes down significantly. Just like any other car running on any other source of energy.

It annoyed the hell out of them that after driving for few laps they have to wait for hours to charge the car to do few more laps.

Musk's ego simply couldn't swallow the fact that show which is being watched by 300 million people regularly slanted his baby. Luckily in this case, his enemy wasn't some lone expert diver but BBC with team of expensive lawyers, hence the result.

Regarding the NY Times test drive, I would recommend to read an independent review rather than taking Musks blog posts as gospel.

I used to work at one of the Musk companies. He was a huge mark in the "cons" column when I was deciding whether or not to take the job. He is embarrassing and he made me a little ashamed to say where I worked. I did my best to ignore him and I suspect others did too. No one ever talked about him.

I don't really see what Elon actually does beyond cultivating public image and having money.

Let’s not go too far the other way now.

He’s chief engineer at spacex for starters.

>He’s chief engineer at spacex for starters.

He calls himself that, sure. Elon is a smart guy, and that's why I think he positions himself the way he does. He doesn't want to be Bill Gates, he wants to be perceived as a man of the people. A dudebro who happens to be rich. That's why he's smoking joints with Joe Rogan on camera and tweeting about WSB.

There is zero percent chance that Elon is actually doing any technical analysis or design for SpaceX.

He calls himself Chief Engineer for the same reason Trump claims to be a master-level deal maker. They're narcissists cultivating their respective cults of personality, and the legions of sycophants just lap this stuff up.

This is 100% public perception that he's a business development guy and all, because all we see is him tweeting, memeing, and sometime making a fool of himself.

He's an engineer, and there's a bunch of engineers who worked with him who will attest to that.

>He's an engineer, and there's a bunch of engineers who worked with him who will attest to that.

He's not, and all those quotes from that reddit thread I know you're thinking of are very careful to dance around the point.

He's not an engineer.

Which thread is this? I'm curious.

The same reddit thread that gets trotted out by Musk worshippers every time someone points out he's not an engineer.

It's full of quotes saying stuff like "he understands a lot about spaceflight and aerodynamics" and similar weasel statements.

Why do you need someone who worked with him to attast it? Engineer is something you go to school to become, not something you become because you have money or workers. Either he have an education as an engineer or he isn't an engineer. Giving yourself a title in your own company doesn't make it so.

In many countries, Engineer is a protected status job title. In the US I believe "Professional Engineer" is protected

In the US, going to school to become a Graduate Engineer does not make you a Professional Engineer.

You definitely don't need formal education in order to be an engineer.

He's also the Technoking of Tesla. The titles don't mean much when he can make them up and give them to himself whenever he feels like it.

Edit: I can admit when I'm wrong. I stand by my assertion that it's absurd to call him a founder of Tesla, but his position in SpaceX seems to be legit.

~~He may be credited as chief engineer at SpaceX, but that doesn't mean he's meaningfully contributing to actual engineering efforts.~~ He's also credited as a founder of Tesla, despite not actually being involved in the founding of that company.

Elon Musk is a real engineer, especially if other engineers said he's an engineer.[1]

Whatever his history is with other people or whatever his personality flaws or weakness, he's the real deal.

[1]: https://www.reddit.com/r/SpaceXLounge/comments/k1e0ta/eviden...

>if other engineers said he's an engineer

Nonsense! Engineer is an education, not a job title. It's no different than Musk calling himself Doctor. He either went to school for years to become an engineer or he isn't one.

The term Engineer is pretty much meaningless in the US. The IT trade is pathetic in this area -- if you swap out a few cat5s you're suddenly an "Network Engineer". Cut and paste some stackoverflow snippets together and you're a "Software Engineer".

In the UK the term is meaningless too, but CEng isn't. You don't become a Chartered Engineer until you've done the education but also have monitored professional practice experience.

The bare minimum is to have bachelor's degree in engineering, no matter what engineering field. You have that, you are an engineer, you don't you'rr not. Regardless of the career you choose after graduation.

I'm a software engineer. I do software engineering with other software engineers. But I didn't go to school for it, I was self-taught. That doesn't make me less of an engineer.

It's ok to express an opinion about Musk either way. You can not like him for all kinds of reasons. But he actually wrote video games as a kid growing up. He wrote code at his earliest startups and a lot of it.

It kinda does, not because you were self trained, but because it is software engineering. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulation_and_licensure_in_en...

I know the word gets thrown around a lot, but “software engineering” doesn’t really have anything to do with engineering at all, and it certainly doesn’t make anyone engineers. Not just because it doesn’t have any formal recognition as an engineering discipline but more importantly because the field is too immature for any such recognition to be at all meaningful. Case in point, all those private certification schemes and how lousy predictors they are of project success.

this is correct, it shouldn't be called engineering at all actually.

>I'm a software engineer.

You know as well as I do that when talking about building a submarine (and linking to SpaceX discussions) "Engineer" isn't meant as someone who made a video game back in the day. It has zero percentage to do with code.

With that said I'm also sure you know that Software Engineer isn't seen as a "real engineer" (and I'm in the same camp as you FYI). It is more like Medical Technician versus Doctor. In most countries you need a license besides an education to b a "real engineer" and Software Engineers cannot get one. The whole job title is a misnomer, just like Engineer in American English has become it seems, though some Board of Examiners still sue you if you try to call yourself an Engineer without a license[0].

I did not write a single word that was positive or negative about Elon Musk in the comment.


Even if he doesn't do the hands-on design work himself, he's clearly good at both recognising engineering talent and evaluating information that's presented to him. You couldn't have either of these skills without some engineering knowledge.

I edited my comment a while ago, I'm not sure your reply is really relevant to the updated version.

But what you described is just being a CTO. That's an important job, but is still separate from being chief engineer.

“He’s obviously skilled at all those different functions, but certainly what really drives him and where his passion really is, is his role as CTO,” or chief technology officer, Reisman said. “Basically his role as chief designer and chief engineer. That’s the part of the job that really plays to his strengths."

From that Reddit thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/SpaceXLounge/comments/k1e0ta/eviden...

So when will his engineers tell him that hyperloop won't work (assuming he honestly doesn't know).

Why won't it? It's just scaling up bank air tubes. But that's almost irrelevant to my larger point:

Where would we be right now if [pick any inventor] had listened when the experts said, "it won't work"?

An inventor's job is to have a big imagination. A successful inventor usually has enough of an engineering background to test their hypothesis and refine as needed. Most of them also know how to gather highly educated minds to help them.

Many successful inventors do not have deep academic backgrounds, because often those educational backgrounds tell them only what is impossible, not what is possible.

Sure, but having engineering knowledge doesn't make you an engineer just like having medical knowledge doesn't make you a doctor.

Gwynne Shotwell deserves far more of the credit for SpaceX than Musk does.

Most large companies have people that deserve more credit than the sitting CEO. However, that's part of the role of CEO is to be the one people look to as being in "charge".

Musk definitely doesn't shy away from that part to his detrement (clearly he doesn't see it that way). But I'm firmly with the previous poster in that I like what Tesla/SpaceX are doing and attempting, but think Musk is a bit of a tool. The irony is not lost on me that sometimes a calmer figurehead might not have been able to lead to success a company like Tesla and/or SpaceX.

And Musk repeatedly publicly gives this to her/says this himself.

I'm no fan of Musk's shitty and arrogant behaviour. His treatment of Unsworth was truly disgusting.

But that's like saying after a rugby game that the left wing deserved far more of the credit than the coach or captain, since they were the one who ran in the winning try.

The thing is that Musk makes things happen. Not in some lame and purely money driven field like crypto or ad tech - but genuinely moving the needle in combating climate change.

I feel I have to cut him some slack and laud his achievements, even though he comes across as a person you would involuntarily punch in the face for his hideous behaviour.

Gwynne Shotwell is the coach in this hypothetical, while Musk is just the mascot.

No, it's more like saying the left winger deserves more credit than some stupid fan who jumped onto the pitch and got in the way.

Musk first appeared as what eventually became that universally loved company, PayPal. Which he was booted out of. Twice.

No one here turns a blind eye to his labor practices. Everyone here at HN knows to steer clear. It’s everyone that doesn’t frequent this website that needs enlightening.

> We should stop turning a blind eye to his labor practices.

Aren't there legal systems to make sure that's being done right? Is "we" some labor inspectors?

If you want to give credit to engineers, where does it end? There are millions of engineers in the world doing important things. Crediting that many people will dilute the value of it all.

> Aren't there legal systems to make sure that's being done right? Is "we" some labor inspectors?

"We" can be past, current and future employees, who might not contact or work with labor inspectors out of reverence to "the mission" or Musk himself.

Vernon Unsworth. He sued Musk for libel in the United States and lost. Musk not only called him "pedo guy" on Twitter, but implied he had married a child bride, when he hadn't, and later hired a private investigator to dry to dig up dirt on Unsworth, which found nothing. Musk also sent this letter to Buzzfeed where he doubled down. He thought it was off the record, and says some terrible things: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/elon-musk-thai-...

It came out later that the private investigator was scamming Elon Musk, and lied to him about finding damaging information. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/oct/08/elon-musk...

Bizarrely, Unsworth's lawyer was L Lin Wood, famous for later apparently having a mental breakdown and supporting conspiracy theories accusing chief justice John Roberts of pedophilia and murder, and being asked to undergo a mental examination by the state bar of Georgia.

L Lin Wood's handling of the Unsworth trial was widely panned as incompetent. Unsworth is clearly a hero, and Musk inserting himself into that situation and permanently tainting Unsworth's name was unconscionable.




Musk's submarine was a joke. The video of it shows it was clearly too large and too rigid to maneuver through the caves. Musk said they would make a video showing the submarine going from point a to b, but never did. Watch these videos of Unsworth both after the rescue and the trial and compare them to Musk's response. It was absolutely sickening.




I saw and touched the sub; it was featured at a science expo in Bangkok not long after the rescue. It was a metal tube with some plexiglass plates on it with air valves mounted in them. I'm sure there was some engineering involved, but didn't seem at all impressive.

My son was a big fan of Elon, the "cool rocket guy". But after his comments about Unsworth he asked me "Why did Elon say that stuff about the man who is a hero?" My son is a Thai boy living in Thailand, close the the same age as the boys who were rescued. Sadly I had to walk back the idea that Elon was a good role model.

I thought Unsworth should have sued Elon in Thailand. It wouldn't have meant much since Elon would never travel here again. But in Thailand defamation is a criminal offense that carries jail time. And since Unsworth is a national hero there's little doubt the court would have found in his favor and Elon would have had an outstanding arrest warrant. Again, wouldn't mean much unless Elon forgot about it and ended up traveling to or through a country that would arrest him on behalf of Thailand.

"impressive" is not a relevant criterion for prototypes

> But in Thailand defamation is a criminal offense that carries jail time. And since Unsworth is a national hero there's little doubt the court would have found in his favor and Elon would have had an outstanding arrest warrant.

While Thailand is certainly within their rights to run their justice system how they want:

1) The punishment doesn't in any way fit the crime.

2) "He's such a hero" is a terrible reason to do something. Focusing on who the person being wronged was is a bad path to justice - it is better to focus on what the perpetrator did.

So I hope the courts in Thailand would have found in Musk's favour.

How do you know the punishment doesn't fit the crime when the case is a thought experiment at most? Or are you saying that because it would be a criminal case it is too much no matter what? It makes no sense to me that it is too much just because it isn't US style justice. Criminal doesn't mean prison time. It's not like the US justice system is much better (clearly not working at all in this case). Compared to those countries justice systems the US should be compared to it's broken, corrupt and unfair (to the extreme for minorities).

The comment was hoping that Elon would have an arrest warrant out on him, of the belief that he would never enter Thailand and was pointing out that the maximum penalty was imprisonment. There is an element of crazy - nobody should be facing arrest for saying nasty things. Maybe a fine, after a difficult court case.

Leaving aside that Thailand's defamation laws are largely a club to stop people criticising the government and not really intended for use against people like Musk.

More than "a club to stop people criticising the government", it's used extensively by the rich and powerful to stop anyone from criticising them.

Another funny thing about it is that the truth is not a defense. So even if Unsworth was a pedo and Musk could prove it, that would not be a defense against a defamation case. All that is needed is to show that the person making the defamatory remark intended to cause the victim to lose face.

So now you can update your son based on another comment we know that Elon was lied to by a private investigator - and seems safe to assume his comments based on that faulty/made up information; https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27796249

Elon is a good role model, he's not perfect though. I'm not sure why so many people blindly put him on a pedestal assuming he should be superhuman - especially at the abnormal level of pressures and responsibility he has.

To me hiring an investigator to find dirt on a guy who bruised your ego by pointing out correctly that the sub sucks, is already crossing a lot of lines for me.

It wasn't just bruised ego, the guy brought legal charges against Musk claiming libel.

How is hiring a 3rd party to investigate the underlying libel not a good initial response? Especially if he could easily afford it.

He had already called him pedo guy amongst other things at that point (i.e., the libel in question in the first place). So it couldn’t have come from the investigation that came later about the libel. The timeline just doesn’t make sense.

That's a good idea. A demonstration of that old phrase "birds of a feather flock together." Musk employs a sleazebag to do Unsworth dirty, gets done dirty himself. Or maybe karma is a better word for it.

I don't know about that putting on a pedestal thing. Musk is a brilliant guy, but has demonstrated that he has a pretty rotten character. IMO, a good role model for a kid really needs to have good quality of character above all else.

Tesla bought Solar city to bail out around $6 billion in assets owned by the Musk family. He came up with an overhyped product launch (the solar roof) to instill confidence while behind the scenes he gutted Solar city (renamed to Tesla Energy) to nothing. I don't want him to be a role model for anyone.



Not to mention credit deals between SpaceX and Tesla as well. Also his habit of promissing outlandish stuff (self driving taxis for example) to keep money flowing and evaluations high. And then manipulating the unregulated Bitcoin market, trying that with stock traded on wall street would get you in hot water with the SEC. Something Elon has already experience with. Good cororate governance is something else.

A scam billionaire that did nothing by himself is anything but a role model.

Has anyone done anything by themself? Weak argument.

I'll have to find the video, but he said that sub wouldn't have made it through the first 50m.

"Bizarrely, Unsworth's lawyer was L Lin Wood, famous for later apparently having a mental breakdown and supporting conspiracy theories accusing chief justice John Roberts of pedophilia and murder, and being asked to undergo a mental examination by the state bar of Georgia.

"L Lin Wood's handling of the Unsworth trial was widely panned as incompetent. Unsworth is clearly a hero, and Musk inserting himself into that situation and permanently tainting Unsworth's name was unconscionable."

Bizarre! I saw his suits when I went digging through the post-election hootenanny. Incompetent would be the gentlest way to describe them.

As well as completely transforming many people's view of Musk (he ceased to be "the least bad billionaire" for many), the case also reflected extremely badly on the US legal system, showing that if you are rich enough you can get away with pretty much anything.

"Least bad billionaire" - isn't that Tony Stark, rather?

"Least bad billionaire" is a weird tag to give Musk.

I mean, there are a bunch of people who either inherited a billion dollars or married into it, and, not being psychopaths, they just decided to spend that money doing good and have done with it. That seems pretty easily to be "less bad" than somebody like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, or Warren Buffett who set out to acquire wealth..

I guess if you've got a really out-there moral utility function maybe saving the eyesight of a million children or whatever counts for nothing while making a slightly better toaster oven is a 100% goal achieved, but outside that I can't see any way Musk could be the "least bad billionaire".

Actually I can see a case for a different weird utility function if we also had some billionaires who got wealthy from scientific discoveries or mathematical breakthroughs or philosophical insights. If Martin Hellman had earned $100M per year since the 1980s for licensing fees from DH kex he could be a billionaire and we could argue about whether that's an important thing to give to the world. Or if Judith Butler had become fabulously wealthy explaining to people that gender is a social construct, she'd be a billionaire and we could argue whether that was great. But in reality we do not pay philosophers or cryptographers billions of dollars, that sort of money goes to somebody like Musk or Bezos.

JK Rowling is a good example. She became a billionaire from writing Harry Potter but didn't stay one for long as she donated most of it

>> supporting conspiracy theories accusing chief justice John Roberts of pedophilia and murder

I miss the good old days when such accusations were extreme. Reporters would hesitate to say the word pedophile on air. Airing such an accusation would almost certainly trigger a serious defamation lawsuit. News outlets would instead talk of unspecified personal accusations. Now, thanks to a certain popular letter-based conspiracy theory, calling any public figure a "satan-worshipping pedophile" doesn't even raise eyebrows.

Is is "popular letter-based conspiracy" or "letter-based popular conspiracy"? I'm slipping on my royal order of adjectives.

If the accusation is ludicrous enough, the "artistic license" defense can work. Alex Jones has used it. Tucker Carlson has used it. Rachel Maddow has used it. There's a difference between serious factual reporting and shitposting on Twitter. The fact that some readers might not be able to distinguish the two may be disturbing, but it should not guide jurisdiction.

The former.

https://twitter.com/QTRResearch/status/1017914936289349635 sounds kinda rude, but not worth a reply

This doesn't excuse Elon slandering Vernon Unsworth, but didn't Vernon talk shit about Elon's good faith attempt at making a submarine to try to rescue the people?

He didn't 'talk shit' about a 'good faith attempt'.

Unsworth - who knew the cave system - said that Musk's idea was impractical and a PR stunt. Both of those claims are valid and came from a reliable source. During a crisis, there is no particular need to be polite to people getting in the way.

https://www.gq.com/story/musk-submarine-where-it-hurts seems kinda rude, or just british /jk!

I thought he called Elon name’s on Twitter and Elon reciprocated (two wrongs don’t make a right). Maybe I am wrong. Even if his idea was impractical, I was under the impression that he made a best effort attempt (I doubt he willingly chose something impractical) and the solution they chose was the better one (divers).

Musk started the Twitter fight after Unsworth gave an interview: https://twitter.com/RickyReports/status/1018597245275557888?...

So what?

You can call each other names and fight.

Musk has gone beyond that and accused Vernon of being a pedophile and marrying child bride.

Maybe it was the heat of the moment. But then some days (or weeks) later he followed up with "I'd bet my signed dollar (that Vernon is a pedo)" (or something like that).

Musk intended to destroy Vernon with the pedophile accusation. There is no doubt of that. This is pre-meditated plan to destroy a person with the pedophile accusation.

For some reason, there's no outrage from tech companies though. People are still praising Musk as usual. I'm looking at you all the CEOs like Jack Dorsey and etc.

I’m not debating that Musk slandered him, and I think Musk should have payed out in court. However I still think Vernon’s response to Musk’s submarine solution was distasteful. Instead of saying “sorry, this won’t work because xyz”, or “we’ll try that if our original plan fails”, he told Musk to “stick it where it hurts”. Not a very professional response.

The sub was a bad plan from the beginning, one of the main issues with the rescue was the narrow twisty path through the cave. This wasn't unknown when Musk was touting his sub. Also even if someone was talking shit about his sub and it wasn't a bad idea, that doesn't justify insinuating they're a pedophile...

Hence “ This doesn't excuse Elon slandering Vernon Unsworth”. I still think Vernon’s response to a good faith attempt at solving the problem “stick it where it hurts” was distasteful.

I'm think it wasn't really a good faith effort because there were such clear problems with trying to shove a rigid steel tube through the cave that it was clearly wasted attention/effort. There was a lot of criticism during the whole thing that it wasn't doing any good except to get Musk more attention.

Fair point

Didn't Elon disrupt the whole operation at one point, traveling there to get footage or an Instagram Story video?

It is easy to see what is going on and that it isn't in good faith. Look a his breached commitments during the Flint water crisis (filter every home to below FDA levels), coronavius (produce ventilators), Peurto Rico huricane aftermath, and more. He as a common pattern with these kind of events.

I’m not familiar with his commitments during flint or the hurricane, but his behavior during COVID was despicable. I’m pretty sure he fought to try and prevent work from home, and constantly downplayed the severity of the disease.

Not to mention reopened in defiance of Alameda County regulations.

And Vernon did not initiate the Twitter fight, he gave an interview and suggested Musk "stick his submarine where it hurts". Musk took to Twitter where he has millions of followers to strike back.

The tweets are deleted but somebody saved a screenshot: https://twitter.com/RickyReports/status/1018597245275557888?...

"Please consider this a commitment that I will fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels. No kidding."


Now you are slandering Unsworth.

I’m really not. He told Elon to “stick it where it hurts”, which was why I said he talked shit to Elon. Again, I’m not trying to deny that Elon is the bad guy here. But Vernon can be the good guy in a situation and still have made a distasteful mistake (talking disrespectfully).

I find it interesting that you position this guy as a "hero" with supporting arguments being that he brought failed legal action against someone else for calling him a name on twitter, while implying the reason he lost was because the hero chose to hire a crazy lawyer. Then say he's clearly a hero since the lawyer he chose has opinions about things you don't personally agree with, as if that has any relevance whatsoever to the legal case here.

Pretty sure the reason he is being positioned as a hero is due to his involvement in literally saving the lives of 12 children.

That was the exact moment I decided I would never buy a Tesla despite wanting one.

The good news is that the Tesla is far from your only option for an electric car at this point.

Pretty much thanks to Tesla.

Electric cars wouldn't be anywhere near where they are today without him - whatever we may think of his personality, the advancements in tech and environmental impacts for generations to come are real.

Perhaps, perhaps not. The market innovation of Tesla--selling electric vehicles based on sportiness and performance rather than eco-friendliness--pre-dates musk's involvement with the company.

The need for a certain portion of the internet to defend Musk at all times is absolutely weird.

Yin and Yang.

The defenders come out of the woodwork at approximately the same moment the attackers do.

Why tho? Musk calls someone a pedophile for petty reasons, he gets called out for it and his defenders respond by saying he is the reason the electric car market exist. It's absolutely bizarre.

Well the top comment about a story Musk played little part in was about Musk when I first replied. You could ask the same question of the criticizers.

So your argument is people only defend Musk when he is criticized? When else would they be able to defend him?

No, I'm merely pointing out that

> The need for a certain portion of the internet to defend Musk at all times is absolutely weird.

is no weirder than the certain portion of the internet that needs to criticize Musk at all times. In fact, the people that feel the need to interject criticisms of Musk into conversations that aren't really about him clearly have Musk living rent-free in their heads to a greater degree than the defenders do.

not only does this article mention Musk and his useless sub but its about the life Musk tried to ruin. How is it weird to bring up Musk and how he tried to ruin this hero's life?

Yes and no.

Tesla did innovate, but frankly not as much as many people want to give them credit for. And a lot of the innovation happened before Musk even joined, at least when it comes to basic EV tech, not talking about AutoPilot or whatever.

Their real achievement was creating a market and interest. This new consumer and investor interest was also in large part to Musk throwing his ego around in public. A lot of other car makers had models in late stage development phases too, but didn't really see enough interest and a market need to bring those models forward to reach production. They were fat and happy, selling their fossil fuel models.

Your part about generating real interest in EVs is exactly what I had in mind when I wrote my reply. I have been following EVs for a couple of decades now; the way especially the Tesla Model S was launched was a breakthrough in shaping the perception of electric cars as something entirely different, and desirable.

There were a number of years when a Tesla was the only good EV you could buy, and they forced the entire industry to take note and actually develop their own programs. (Fast forward to today, and it's sometimes pure comedy to see latecomers such as Mazda's first attempt being a complete "what?" with their first EV having under half the range of and being more expensive than a Model 3.)

Sure, someone else could eventually have gotten there, but Musk and Tesla were the ones who did it - and I believe with a rather significant margin of time.

There's a long list of things I don't like about personalities and design choices, but I feel it's ok to keep that separate from the above.

(I don't own an EV. Still saving and waiting for the right time to upgrade from a 10 year old Subaru Outback ICEV bought new then.)

Do you have any info on what is actually new in Teslas? The only hard problem of electric vehicles is the battery - which is third party in Teslas. So what exactly is novel there?

"The only hard problem of electric vehicles is the battery - which is third party in Teslas".

No the entire system efficiency is whats hard and is why Tesla is way in front of the competition with regards to performance and range. Batteries have so far been a commodity - 18500 & 21700s, its only now that Tesla is starting to focus on that part of the system in reference to Battery Day.

If it wasn't Tesla someone else would, most likely Rimac.

That is absolutely not true.

Lets not make this comments section about an idiots disparagement of a hero.

>I didn't really follow the Musk bit of the story

I did, and it's shocking how something only a few years away, and so publicly recorded, has been so muddled. There was this thai journalist I had been following on twitter to get all details on the whole situation, pity I forgot the account.

anyhoo, here is the cliffnotes version from my memory, apologies if I got something wrong, I'm not a journalist, can't be arsed to dig through the old tweets (but a more tech savvy person could probably do so easily, they are still there iirc):


1- people on twitter start asking musk for help, and a thai telecommunication/satellite/something CEO contacts him for help, Musk's own employees personally asks him and volunteer to help, Musk decided to dive in.

2- First option they decided (and something everyone was tweeting at him) was to use his Boring tunnel Drills, he flew his boring tunnel team on the SpaceX jet to check, they realized ground was too unstable to drill, so that that option was closed, but the team was still there, with their geology sensing equipment and what not.

3- Iirc tesla gave some powerwalls to run the base camp somewhere in the timeline, but don't recall any other help for that musk company.

4- They are in discussion with the rescue team, the main issue is that the kids might be malnourish and not able to make the journey, you can't send wheelchairs and stretchers, so Musk's team is asked to make some alternatives

5- key point is that it was a two way collaborative process, Musk's team didn't unilaterally offer his "submarine", iirc, Musk shared emails from the rescue team leader to that affect.

6- the first product made was NOT the submarine. There is a video, where tesla or spacex suppliers (i.e a seperate company, but affiliated with one of musk's business) made this really cool rubber/plastic/something stretcher/wrap like item for free, that would help carry a weak child through the tunnel and float in the watery bits, but iirc it was not used because time was running out.

In the analogy, this was the wheel chair equivalent, since the child was supposed to hold himself together somewhat, and was an aid, the child would have to be submerged and breath from an oxygen tank, but the aid would help him bind to a rescuer and not sink or float away, not be too big a burden on the rescuer.

7-The Submarine was the a quicker and more urgent solution, and was for a child that was totally unconscious. This is the ambulance stretcher equivalent, where the child simply has no control. The idea was proposed by the spacex/boring tunnel team (they were the same company basically then) to quickly re-furbish and use an existing falcon tube.

Here is a quick reminder, the Tunnel was essentially like the Letter M, and there was tight points and lower water points, The "submarine" was NOT meant for the tighter points, and only for the lower and longer water-logged bits, where the child could not be presumed to even breath from an oxygen tank.

The idea was to ONLY use the submarine (hence the name) in some of the longer bits, where the child was to be locked in with the necessary oxygen, and then removed once again, especially during the tight bits, where the submarine wouldn't, as many internet sleuths pointed out, fit.

this was tool of absolute desperation, and this why the rescue team had been in contact with musk's team, time was running out and they feared the children wouldn't be able to move on their on. Luckily it wasn't needed, but there was a genuine fear.

8- But then the rescue happened, and the submarine was not used, since things were not that bad as feared, but still, it was anything goes till that point. Things start to unravel after that, since because the item was not used, people thought the item was useless.

9-vernon said some unkind things about musks's submarine (not sure if warranted), musk flips his cool and says some REALLY bad things about vernon (totally not warranted), some shyster gets involved and fools musk into thinking vernon was an actually pedo (dude can land rockets, but he was not so smart on the conman front) the lawsuit happens, musk wins because insulting people is not a crime in the US, and so here we are.



I think people forget that behind the rescue operation were actual people, not named musk or vernon.

first of all were the actual thai kids, whose sitaution was getting precarious day by dat. Secondly were the rescuers, who were worried about the rescue and were looking at any and all who could help. then there were the people working in musk's team.

One of the people was a thai spacex employee for example, and this was personal to him, and he was responsible for getting musk involved, iirc. the submarine idea was not musk's, but his spacex employees, and all he did was give them a blank cheque in using company resources.

yes musk was a an absolute cnut in insulting vernon that way, and in no way justifies his crass remarks, but behind him flipping his cap, was him being insulted on behalf of not just himself but his employees and his suppliers, who had volunteered for free, and were not deserving of vernon's unkind remarks(though again, simply not comparable to musks's remarks, he should just have shut the fcuk up)

Life moves on, those spacex/tesla/boring company employees and suppliers have moved on, heck even vernon and musk have moved on after the lawsuit, but we are all still stuck here in this strange world of half truths and misinformation.

I think the real victims of this whole musk-vernon fiasco has been the capacity for silicon valley nerds to volunteer their skills, I doubt those spacex/boring tunnel employees/suppliers would ever venture to volunteer on such a scale again, much easier to keep quiet and work the beaten path, at soup kitchens or some "approved" setup like UN etc, much safer options to give back.

here is what i can dig up, will update as I find more sources:


Here are all of elon's tweet's during the time period:

(23-Jun-2018 to 11-Jul-2018)



here is the email between elon and richard stanton, the rescue lead: where richard seems to urged elon to continue the work on the mini sub



unless I am mistaken, this is thai billionaire guy:



you can check his account for details I guess


this is the inflatable raft that I was thinking of, made by the suppliers



I think this is the thai journalist i was following back then



Thank you for posting this!

No problem! It depresses me that something so recent, so... open and easily accessible (literally a click away) is so misunderstood, what hope do we have of countering misinformation on a larger scale, if even the nerdy techy folks of HN can't be bother do counter misinformation.

It doesn't have to be pro or anti musk, you just have to look at the facts


I was just on Twitter DM (magic of technology, you can just talk to a rando person a thousand mile away now!) with the Thai journalist (@thanr) who had been reporting on site on behalf of the BBC or some other press, and he told me there are so many other facts not publicly know, like the scope of the cooperation between Musk, The State Dept, The American Embassy in Thailand and the Thai government. I've requested him to perhaps write some article or a book or something to detail those.

it's understandable if not knowing those not easily google-able facts were perhaps the cause of the confusion. But not doing a simple tweet search? The man is a prolific tweeter, why not just... go read what he said, and make your opinion on that? Good, Bad whatever, but atleast you should be fully informed.

neither Musk nor Vernon come clean out of this mess, but atleast there is some clarity to be gained.

Well not to say that it was not smart what Musk did. The guy did shitpost first and Musk responded. It's not like Musk just out of nowhere started hammering the guy.

Pedophilia accusations might be just a tad overescalated as a response to "your sub sucks"...

I agree. But I already said that.

Consider: why wouldn't a Mars colony be an Elon company town?


you can view the article if you click the green "i agree" button


Please don't take threads on generic tangents (this story -> cave story -> pedo guy tweet -> reductio ad Muskum). Please don't post cheap flamebait to HN. Also please don't go on about downvotes or post swipes about other users. It's all very tedious and we're trying for something interesting here.

We've had to ask you before to follow the site guidelines. Would you mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and taking the intended spirit of the site more to heart? We'd be grateful, because we're trying to avoid the tailspin into internet dreck which has traditionally been the fate of forums like this.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27795166.

Yea haha I was going to remind folks of that too. Elon was building a submarine that everyone involved told him was a terrible idea and to please leave them alone because he was hampering the effort, and Elon responded by calling one of the lead rescuers a “pedo guy” and got sued over it.

I believe his defense was that “pedo guy” was a common insult in South Africa.

Simpler times haha.

It's probably not worth the effort providing any form of defense of any part of Musk's role in this, but his team did ask the British lead divers whether they should carry on working on the sub (well, underwater transportation tank) project, and they received the response that the lead divers wished them to continue as a contingency.

Also, one should obviously not falsely accuse someone of being a pedophile, including if they tell you to shove your submarine up your ass.

But really, this whole thread shows up every time the cave story is mentioned, and I think the whole thing just detracts from the fantastic international act of heroism that the rescue was. It was really a beautiful achievement where no adversaries had to be hurt, the kind of uniting against the cruel laws of nature that I wish the world would see a lot more of.

>I believe his defense was that “pedo guy” was a common insult in South Africa.

This is also what Luis Suarez said about his comment that got him in trouble that his comment is common where he's from. Just because it's what is said in one place does not mean that it is acceptable anywhere else (if even in the one place).

Nowhere the same case, Suárez used a common friendly term with his friend, as a thank you, and he wrote it in Spanish. Anybody who has half a clue about the Spanish language knows that was not an insult, quite the opposite.

Musk showed his true character.

So did the American legal system.

Just like when he gave tens of thousands of kids in Flint Michigan safe drinking water the U.S. government has been denying them for decades.

Not that it’s musks fault, but the most recent update I can find on this (March 2021) sounds like they never got the filters working


It was an asshole thing to say, but I don't think someone being an asshole means that that moment defines their "true character"

Lots of people say dumb things in the heat of the moment. Choosing to stick by it and not apologize is the confirmation dialogue for showing your character.

He afterwards paid someone to dig up more dirt and emailed media with further lies about the guy. At that point it kind of stops being "heat of the moment".

Oh, but it wasn't just that one thing. It's just layer upon layer with that guy. This one was pretty damn bad though

An expert in the field risks their life to save children, is accused of being a peadophile. That's a long way from being an a-hole.

Yeah if every harmful thing constituted the "true character" of someone, we'd all be sinners. Granted, if a lot of harm is done, then it might be fair. (Cue the knee-jerk "isn't dragging a hero's name through the mud a lot of harm?"; I don't know, can you tell me what wouldn't qualify as a "lot of harm" under your worldview? Everyone knows the diver was a hero and if you have evidence his life is affected, pls share)

It's just negativity bias; considering the negative to be "more true" or accurate than the positive.

> we'd all be sinners

We are all sinners tho, that’s kind of the nature of sin.

I have a friend of a friend who worked directly under Musk at one of his big ventures. Can confirm that Musk is a giant egotistical asshole, albeit a brilliant one.


IMO: those weren't "simpler times." Everyone just seems to let Elon get away with saying a lot of BS on Twitter for whatever reason. Trump was the same way until he became president.

Simpler times... 3 years ago...

“Before the war” if you will haha - as in before COVID, which has distorted at least my perception of time greatly.

Also when the very last of my respect for Musk died.


Well, at least they're being upfront about it: You can pay or get ads + tracking (or, the hidden third option: leave the site).

this is very common across German websites. I assumed it was a common pattern elsewhere too!

Are you saying German sites doesn't follow the law (only freely given consent is legal)?

The law is not that absolute in this respect and there have been cases before higher courts accepting "data in exchange for value" contracts under some conditions. There are also legal opinions out there that this is illegal but note that there is a controversy here.

I also don't understand how this can be in legal in the sense of the GDPR, but AFAIK there are multiple German news sites which use this pattern (e.g. Golem, Heise and Spiegel from the top of my head).

Why would it be a GDPR violation? As I understood it, the point of the GDPR is to prevent people from being tracked without knowing about it and consenting to it. Here the consent button is as obvious as it could be, you really can't miss it.

The problem is that you have to give your tracking consent freely, which means, that you should have no disadvantage if you don't consent. However, being awarded the right to read the news for free after giving your consent can hardly be considered 'freely'.

I don't care much about this case in particular, because I don't use their pages much anyway, but from my understanding, the correct approach would be, to simply use ads without tracking for the people who don't consent.

Consent is given freely, otherwise it is coercion.


Please let's all show the same restraint.

Musk wrote that tweet about a separate UK diver.

Still, this Finnish diver did show remarkable restraint here.

I respect Musk more than many commenters you see around. I understand he's not the billionaire savior many people seem to believe. I remember him mentioning something about how the sub couldn't go wrong because if the kids got there and the water rose, it should get where the kids were. How feasible was it, really?

It was never even remotely feasible. Musk's design was simply too large to fit through the restrictions in the cave. It's the kind of nonsense that only someone with no real diving experience could come up with.

The restrictions were in the upper part. The article explains the boys walked in through a much larger path underneath.

Musk had no diving experience, and no knowledge of these caves. He was working from incomplete knowledge and intuition.

Almost all of Musk's critics in the matter were working from no knowledge of the caves and little to no diving experience. Some of Musk's critics were working from the best available knowledge in both areas.

But this diver points out exactly what Musk intuited. There was a much easier route for all those boys to have hiked into the cave. Musk's submarine would probably have worked over that route. But nobody had knowledge of that route at the time.

One solution would have been for Musk or somebody to build little robots that could explore the caves in zero light with sonar mapping equipment. The robots would need to navigate and operate underwater and abovewater in very difficult terrain. It seems like an impractical pursuit under the circumstances. Why even mention such a ridiculous idea? Well, why not? Why not put all options on the table. You can dismiss the "Have Scotty beam them out" stuff immediately. But they were talking about establishing supply lines for months to keep them alive until the water went down. They were talking about drilling holes 1km+ to hopefully tap the chamber where those kids were. They were talking all sorts of stuff.

And yes, somebody was talking body-sized submarines. And somebody might have been talking about dive robots. And sonar mapping.

I was glued to my news feed with a bag of potato chips and so were almost all of you. I don't know diving and I don't know those caves.

I think the divers who rescued them are mental. I mean really crazy. I mean, seriously, who in their right mind would do stuff like that? I think the effort just to find the kids was risk-taking at a scale that terrifies me. Their brains do not work like mine. Thank goodness.

Musk's brain doesn't work like mine, either. I'm not going to criticize the divers. They are clearly heroes. Musk doesn't come off as a hero in this story. But I'm not going to criticize him either. His intuition was right. He did more than click reload on his browser for two weeks. Nobody else liked his idea. Isn't that the story of his life?

In the end, his idea was one of many that were rejected. Instead they went with the crazy idea to tie everybody up, knock them out, and hope they don't accidentally knock their masks off. Who's bright idea was that? Well, it worked.

Let's not bag on the people who made tremendous efforts to rescue the kids. And let's not bag on the people who made some efforts that didn't produce results. And please don't bag on me, who did nothing.

You don’t seem to understand the power that a platform like Musk’s has. What if those humble cave divers thought Elon knows his stuff and pursued his plan instead of theirs? What if they got pressured by outside entities, whomever they maybe, and were told to follow him?

When it doesn’t go well “he’s just putting options on the table”. When it does he’s colossal genius?

The bigger issue people point out is Musk’s inability to know limits of his knowledge. He is naive and that’s news to a lot of people

You don’t seem to understand the power that a platform like Musk’s has. He put forward his idea. He built a prototype. He did initial testing. He put out a lot of work (or paid/persuaded others to do so). He was mocked and criticized and rejected. We don't have to play what if on your scenario. We can see the real world results.

If you want to play what if... What if he provided dive robots and body submarines and mapping experts? What if it took him a week to map the caves, find a workable route, and save those kids? What if just one kid had his mask scraped off using the technique they actually did use? What if one kid got stuck and the helper got killed trying to get them unstuck?

The what if game is fun for me with optimistic what ifs. It's a terrible game with pessimistic what ifs. It's largely pointless either way. But sometimes the optimistic version is useful. Sometimes somebody develops dive robots after the fact because the what ifs capture their imagination in a good way.

More people should reject their limits and reach for big things. I don't think Musk is the most amazing person in the world. I realize he has a downside (like we all do). But I hope he inspires people to dream big and accomplish big. That requires optimism. Sometimes even naive optimism.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw

>"Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw

Except when it doesn't. Sometimes the unreasonable man is just an asshole who wants to play Batman and progress depends on ignoring him completely.

The heros that rescued those kids came up with a preposterous and unreasonable plan. We could have ignored them, too. And ignored the drilling crews, and the dudes with miles of hose and giant pumps. We could have said that any rescue would require an unreasonable effort.

It sure is easy to slip "we" all over that paragraph. I certainly don't deserve any credit for the decisions that were made and the heroics that saved the day.

But if we reject all the unreasonable efforts, we are left with the status quo. That would mean those kids wouldn't have even been located, let alone rescued. Thank goodness for people who flew around the world to do crazy things. Thank goodness for divers who ditched their wives on their anniversary and flew over there just on the chance they might carry the bottles for the Navy experts. Those are not reasonable actions.

Unreasonable people aren't always right. Maybe they're not even usually right. Maybe. But thank goodness for the times when progress depended on them and they didn't fail us by being reasonable.

This is conspiracy theory logic, thinking that the armchair theorist and the subject matter expert are on the same level.

You keep stressing that the plan was preposterous and unreasonable, as if everyone one over there just did whatever they wanted and nobody was coordinating. This was an unprecedented operation, but by that same logic was the first ever heart transplant "preposterous and unreasonable"?

There's a world of difference between picking the best of many risky plans, and shouting over better informed people to advance the plan that makes you look like a hero.

Yes! Now you're getting it. The first brain surgery was preposterous and audacious. The first pacemaker was crazy (You want to add batteries to my heart?).

Crazy ideas require crazy amounts of careful design, careful planning, careful execution. That's what makes them crazy. Along with the high probability of failure even with the greatest care. How many open heart surgery patients died before the first success? None? That's crazy!

You want to host the summer olympics in Yuma, AZ? That's crazy!

You want to build a giant reusable spaceship on the border of Mexico? That's crazy!

You want to drill a hole through somebody's skull to drain the swelling and relieve the pressure? That's crazy!

You want to cut a hole in somebody's throat so they can breath? That's crazy!

You want to plant 10 trillion trees to change the Earth's atmosphere? You're crazy!

You want to teach every child in the world how to read? Crazy!

Not all of those things are the best of many risky plans.

And quit pretending that somebody shouted over better informed people. I'm sure there were critics of all the plans. Some people might have shouted. Some might have quit in protest. Some pondered quietly. Some people were terrified but did it anyway. They planned and organized the best they could. And despite mistakes, and even spur-of-the-moment adlibs they pulled it off. Crazy!

They are crazy at the start. The ones that do succeed do so by having a plan. Not by trying to be crazy / rebel without a cause. We still don’t know all the variables. Those with experience knew some and ultimately executed on it. They were informed by hands-on experience. Note the governments and the navy SEAL units from multiple countries are getting involved with the operations. Imagine being whomever you are and advocating for your solution. What message are you sending? That everyone should haggle with these operational experts and get an answer for why their ideas wouldn’t work?

Don’t you think the time, attention and energy that these people expend dealing with famous cool guy’s ideas are ultimately resources that are taken away from the core operation.

except that elon did not initiate the exchange of words. Elon proposed his submarine. He was told by the diver Vern Unsworth to 'stick his submarine where it hurts'.

Elon Musk is a grown man, not a child, and he should be capable of tact and self control. "He started it" is not a valid excuse for his public, slanderous little temper tantrum.

Musk actually won the defamation case because--my words--you can't take anything he says seriously.

Musk won the case because he had the most expensive lawyers in the world.

Ah, the Tucker defence!

Correction, the Rachel Maddow defense.

You have to pick the person to use it first.

Terrible attempt at a "No, u, lib" retort.


> A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit against Fox News after lawyers for the network argued that no "reasonable viewer" takes the primetime host Tucker Carlson seriously, a new court filing said.


>Now comes the claim that you can't expect to literally believe the words that come out of Carlson's mouth. And that assertion is not coming from Carlson's critics. It's being made by a federal judge in the Southern District of New York and by Fox News's own lawyers in defending Carlson against accusations of slander. It worked, by the way.


> The judge said that lawyers for Fox "persuasively" argued that "any reasonable viewer 'arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism' about the statements" Carlson makes, according to a court filing.

1. I'm a liberal.

2. Both cases were about a news network program not being news but an opinion show (not statements of fact).

3. Seethe harder.

4. We liberals need to learn how to self-critique and also accept criticism from within without labeling everyone as enemies or as "others". This shit is fracturing our identity and driving people to the right. The correcting function to our shitty behavior is going to be ugly.

From the law suite: A reasonable viewer would not actually think OAN is paid Russian propaganda, instead, he or she would follow the facts of the Daily Beast article; that OAN and Sputnik share a reporter and both pay this reporter to write articles,” Bashant wrote. “Anything beyond this is Maddow’s opinion or her exaggeration of the facts.”

Source: Variety

Reads different from the Tucker defence:

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit against Fox News after lawyers for the network argued that no "reasonable viewer" would take the network's primetime star Tucker Carlson seriously.

Source: Business Insider

Saying some opinion wouldn't be take. serious is very different from saying the person having thay opinion wouldn't be taken serious.

capable != required

If he seriously proposes to help and is told to stick it where he hurts, he can choose whether or not to respond with 'tact and self control' but he isn't required to.

The diver is the one without tact and self control, but you slag elon for responding in kind instead of the diver. You expect more from musk but musk owes you nothing - not even tact. He doesn't have to accept abuse from someone else out of fear of losing your good opinion. It literally doesn't matter to him at all.

If someone is derailing an important rescue, by making useless suggestions to please his own ego, what in your view is the appropriate response.

What in your opinion should we say to spectators at accidents you hinder the rescue workers, by e.g.stanfing next to them and giving advice?

The question is the tone - this person was rude first, and got a rude reply, and the fixation is on the rude reply rather than the one that set the tone.

The tangent about 'hindering rescue workers' has nothing to do with reality. they were exchanging messages on twitter - it's nonsense to equate that to anything like you are.

Musk is still a dick for the comment. He was butt hurt, because his stoner idea of a tiny submarine was met with the "umm, WTF" that it should by actual people saving the kids lives.

I don't disagree but he wasn't a dick in a vacuum - someone was a dick to him, he was a dick back. Your expectations that musk should just take it on the chin without responding in kind are your expectations and honestly nothing to do with musk. This guy was rude to him, he was rude back, you're disappointed in musk, musk doesn't care, you're still fixated on the response rather than what set the tone - the original rude message.

I don't see why musk should care about being nice to someone who started off being rude.

Yes, that was his excuse, "back home calling someone a pedo was just a normal insult", but Musk did a bit more than "was rude back". Hiring a PI to dig up dirt? Sending further lies about the guy to media?

its why I don't start fights with billionaires who can afford to look into you without effort. I wouldn't do it, but once it became a thing I'm 100% every billionaire has a firm who looks into people who start fights with them.

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