View in Browser Our Journalism Needs Your Support Please Donate Today
California Local Logo
Graphic which spells out The Newsletter.

By Eric Johnson
Published Sep 18, 2023

What the hell happened to this sweet, smart kid? What the hell happened to this sweet, smart kid?

Replacing Twitter as Elon Self-Destructs

This week’s edition of The Newsletter kicks off with two articles that ultimately spring from what might be called the Big Social Media Meltdown. Beginning with the problem, the first finds yours truly wrestling with the problem of Elon Musk, and his apparent efforts to destroy his own reputation and the platform he spent $44 billion to control. The second piece, by our CEO and director of product Chris Neklason, describes one specific way Twitter/X is now broken, and his recent successes in building something that delivers a functionality we used to find under the little blue bird.

Yellow background with Sacramento Digs Logo, and the title, Taste Summer

Making Sense of a Mad Genius

I first encountered Elon Musk at a private conference while researching a cover story about the new billions being invested in eco-friendly technologies, “The Green Gold Rush,” published in Metro Silicon Valley 15 years ago this week.

Speaking to a roomful of venture capitalists from firms including Kleiner Perkins and JP Morgan, Musk talked about, among other things, his dream of enabling the colonization of Mars. At the time I had no idea his mind was moving in that direction, was sorta shocked, and expected the idea to land awkwardly. But he received an explosive ovation. He was a hero even before he revolutionized the industry that builds the world’s most poisonous product.

Already an extremely wealthy man, Musk seems to be motivated more by a historical imperative than any strictly business or even classically altruistic purpose. He says he started Tesla “to show the car companies what is possible, and accelerate the development of electric vehicles” overall.

Well, he did that, but the number of people who still think of him as a hero is dwindling. In the wake of Walter Isaacson’s new biography of the world’s wealthiest individual, following years of Musk’s brazenly erratic behavior, he is being attacked, most ardently by former allies in left-of-center field. As a onetime admirer, I wrestle here with a man who seems to be rocketing from brilliant enigma to dangerous nutcase.

The Self-Demonization of Elon Musk

A Complicated Billionaire: Elon Musk, one of the great industrial inventors of all time, is on a rocketship to villainhood.
His critics portray him as a cartoonish billionaire boogeyman, while the world’s wealthiest individual works hard to prove them right.

Getting the Ground Truth Out

Elon Musk did not waste time turning the platform he called “the digital town square” into his private property. One of the first and worst things he did was eliminate a functionality that public agencies used to distribute important information.

For years, organizations from the CHP to the California Office of Emergency Services used the platform as a primary means of informing the public. Many of us have shared and found information about wildfires and floods on Twitter, or even just traffic jams. Not so on X.

Here’s how California Local is working with Google Maps to make that important information available.

Distributing Ground Truth by Mapping the Situation

Detail of interactive map that delivers real-time information drawn from reliable sources.
Social media were once very good at sharing reliable first-hand information about fires, floods, etc. Not any more. Here’s an alternative.

California Local logo

We Need Your Support

Forward this newsletter to your friends and family. Spread the word about us in your newsletter or blog. Link to us on social media.
Consider donating.
Let us tell your story.

Get to Know a Group

Big Brothers Big Sisters logo Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brother Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with strong, enduring, professionally supported mentorship. The chapter serves Sacramento and Yolo counties, as well as southern Placer County.

→ Learn more

California Media Alliance logo

From Our Media Allies

→ View All
Sierra Sun logo Fuel Mapping, Drones Represent Next Wave of Firefighting

The GigaFire Project will help land managers identify where fire risk is the greatest and determine which fuel reduction methods are most effective in a specific area.

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Achieve Tahoe Expands Access to Outdoor Recreation

Nonprofit organization Achieve Tahoe is a pillar of adaptive outdoor recreation in the Lake Tahoe area, providing inclusive physical and recreational activities that proactively build health, confidence, and independence.

Auburn Journal logo Cohousing expert to share experiences

Auburn Cohousing, a group pushing for a cohousing development in Auburn, will host a presentation from North American Cohousing expert Katie McCamant on Sept. 27 at the Maidu Community Center in Roseville.

The Loomis News logo Contractor Hired for Hidden Grove EIR

After firing one contractor, the Loomis Town Council hired a different company to prepare an environmental impact report for the 61-acre Hidden Grove housing project near downtown.

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Chamber Event Looks at Ups, Downs of Current School Year

South Lake Tahoe residents heard from Lake Tahoe Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Todd Cutler at a State of Education address hosted by the Tahoe Chamber of Commerce.

Sierra Sun logo ‘You Can Never Break the Chain’

Sometimes a person comes to Lake Tahoe and has an idea that takes off and turns into a beloved staple. Here are a few restaurant chains that got their start in Tahoe.

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Lake of the Sky Celebrates Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit History

USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a Sept. 22 presentation by radio personality and historian Don Lane.

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Lake Tahoe Community College Launches Cross-Country Teams

Matthew Airola, a two-time California Community College Athletic Association cross-country and track and field champion, was hired by the Lake Tahoe Community College to coach new track programs for men and women.

Tahoe Daily Tribune logo Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation Awards Nearly $300K in Grants to Local Nonprofits

In 2023, for the first time, Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation invited its Donor Advised Fund holders to co-invest in Community Fund grants that allow nonprofits to request the support they need to better serve the Tahoe region.

Lincoln News Messenger logo Services Available at Lincoln Community Children’s Health Clinic

Families whose children attend Lincoln elementary and middle schools can receive no-cost health services Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Glen Edwards Middle School.

  California Local Pin Marker  

Recent News

→ View All

• Encephalitis Virus Detected in Lincoln Mosquito Sample

The Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District detected St. Louis Encephalitis virus in a mosquito sample near the Lincoln Airport—only the second time it has been detected in a mosquito in Placer County, although surrounding counties have detected the virus this summer.

(09/16/2023) → Roseville Today

• Cal Fire Issues Urgent Warning Regarding Incursions of Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Incidents involving use of the systems, commonly known as drones, in firefighting airspace have led to the temporary suspension of critical aerial firefighting operations a half-dozen times so far this year.

(09/15/2023) → YubaNet

• An Oral Accounting of Tahoe’s Past

The North Lake Tahoe Historical Society will soon have multiple oral history interviews on its website that will take people back to Tahoe’s early days.

(09/14/2023) → Moonshine Ink

• New COVID Boosters Are Coming: What You Need to Know

Cases are on the rise, and so are hospitalizations and deaths. So the federal government's release of new, updated COVID boosters feels like good timing.

(09/13/2023) → CapPublicRadio

• Cal State Tuition to Rise 34 Percent Over Five Years

The tuition increases were forecast earlier this year, when a Cal State task force concluded the system needs at least $1.5 billion annually in new revenue to afford student services and bolster its academic offerings.

(09/13/2023) → CalMatters

• Climate Bill Forcing Companies to Reveal Carbon Emissions Passes, Newsom Yet to Say if He’ll Sign it

About 5,300 companies would file annual emissions reports. The aim is to hold corporations accountable for the role they play in climate change.

(09/12/2023) → CalMatters

• Meet California’s (Possible) Future State Bat

There’s an official state bird, mineral, tree, fish, insect, lichen, fabric, sport, dance, soil and even dinosaur.

(09/12/2023) → CapPublicRadio

• Opioid Antidote Now Available in Drug Stores

Naloxone, a nasal spray that can reverse the adverse effects of opioids, became available in drug stores last week. The drug is sold under the brand names Narcan and RiVive and can be purchased over the counter.

(09/12/2023) → Palo Alto Online

• No Classes? No Lectures? Still Get Your Degree? Yes, Under an Experimental New System at California Community Colleges

Eight community colleges in California are testing out a new education model, one that defines success by the skills a student learns, not the time they spend in a classroom. But changing the traditional education system isn’t easy.

(09/11/2023) → CalMatters

• New Bill Comes to Rescue When California Public Records Requests Are Denied

A bipartisan bill would create a state ombudsperson to intervene when public records requests are denied. But an advocacy group is concerned that it will encourage state agencies to go to court.

(09/11/2023) → CalMatters
  California Local Pin Marker  

Upcoming Government Meetings

→ View All
Event sponsor logo City of Auburn / Traffic Committee
Tuesday September 19 2023   8:30 AM
Event sponsor logo City of Auburn / Sustainability Advisory Committee
Tuesday September 19 2023   1:30 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Roseville / Transportation Commission
Tuesday September 19 2023   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Lincoln / Airport Committee Meeting
Event sponsor logo City of Auburn / Endurance Capital Committee
Wednesday September 20 2023   4:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Roseville / Roseville City Council Meetings
Wednesday September 20 2023   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Roseville / Design Committee
Event sponsor logo City of Rocklin / Art Commission Meeting
Monday September 25 2023   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Auburn / City Council Meetings
Monday September 25 2023   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Lincoln / SPECIAL MEETING: Lincoln City Council Meetings
Tuesday September 26 2023   5:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Roseville / Public Utilities Commission
Tuesday September 26 2023   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Lincoln / Lincoln City Council Meetings
Tuesday September 26 2023   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Rocklin / Rocklin City Council Meeting
Tuesday September 26 2023   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Lincoln / Design Review Board
Wednesday September 27 2023   9:00 AM
Event sponsor logo City of Roseville / City Council Law & Regulation Committee Meeting
Thursday September 28 2023   9:00 AM
Event sponsor logo City of Auburn / Streetscape History and Art Advisory Committee
Thursday September 28 2023   4:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Rocklin / Traffic Safety Committee
Thursday September 28 2023   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Roseville / Planning Commission
Thursday September 28 2023   6:30 PM