THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY
WHETHER FOR their or his sins, Time magazine – ubiquitously known as “Times” in Trinidad – this week named Elon Musk, the Tesla/SpaceX guy, its Person of the Year.
The editors, as is their wont when their choice is unpopular, pointed out Time’s Person of the Year is not a positive award but merely the recognition of the individual who “for better or worse” most influenced the preceding year’s news. Time underlined that Adolf Hitler, perhaps modern history’s most hated man (and certainly the man who would start World War II by invading Poland in 1939) had been the magazine’s 1938 Man of the Year. The USSR leader Josef Stalin (perhaps modern history’s second-most hated man), was Time’s Man of the Year twice, in 1939 and 1942; most scholars agree Stalin was deliberately personally responsible for the deaths of 20-22 million of his own people.
So you clearly don’t have to be a nice guy to be Time’s Person of the Year.
In further defence of this muskiest of all recognitions, Time also reminded us that, in 1982, it named the personal computer its Machine of the Year. So you don’t even have to be human.
None of the earlier awards can be faulted by Time’s own criterion for selection; clearly not everyone can be Barack Obama, nor even Saddam Hussein.
But, even so…Elon Firetrucking Musk?
Even if, this year, Time’s declaration is really that of the Jacka-- of the Year, how could Elon Musk be considered a bigger jacka-- than Jeff Bezos? Is it because, while Tesla’s shares momentarily trade higher than Amazon’s, he’s that much artificially richer? For richer or poorer, could Elon Musk be more evil than Mitch McConnell? Or more evilly negligent than Boris Johnson? Or more evilly stupid than Marjorie Tailored for Gangrene? Could Elon Musk hold a candle for jacka--ery to perennial Biggest Jacka-- of All Time, Donald “Fat Nixon/Fat Osama Bin Laden” Trump?
In Trinidad, we would give the whole Elon Musk Person of the Year matter the two-word assessment and judgments we apply to all scratch lottery ticket-deep suspicions: “Money passed!” (In Caribbean magazines imitating Hello! and People, we would probably find it had indeed: the cover picture would be accompanied by a puff piece of PR thinly disguised as a “profile” of the person on the cover, who would have taken out a full-page, full-colour ad.)
Even if Elon Musk could argue that he was a bigger deal (ie, jacka--) than all comers of his ilk, how could Elon Musk – or anyone or anything else – be bigger than covid19 and the new omicron variant?
How could the magazine that named the personal computer its Machine of the Year prefer the lesser of two rich spoiled brats playing space cowboy over the year's real newsmaker?
Right now, as you sit reading this, I’m pacing up and down, worried sick that my children may not be able to board the plane that will bring them home for Christmas tomorrow, Saturday.
Between my writing and your reading, the number of covid19 cases where they are will have doubled. Every 1.9 days, you have twice as many cases as you did 1.9 days before. And that new number doubles in 1.9 days.
It’s a geometric progression that could shut the world’s hospitals down by Christmas.
Epidemiologists don’t know enough about omicron yet to declare that it is as lowly a mortal threat as it is highly transmissible. But its sheer speedy spread may already have us beat. Omicron is more catchy than a K-pop single.
This very minute, I and millions of others – parents, relatives, friends, lovers, bosses, employees, students, CEOs, lawyers, engineers, rank amateurs, professional footballers, filmmakers, cricketers, philosophers, sex workers, sex-starved, everyone on the planet – will hold our breath until we are reunited with the people we need desperately in our lives or our offices.
Omicron may stop the world as we know it, even this firetrucked-up covid19 bizarro iteration. Every single person on the planet is hoping that their lives or their livelihoods won’t be shattered this Christmas by omicron.
And Time has given us Elon Firetrucking Musk as its Person of the Year.
How many people will ever own a Tesla?
The magazine Trinidadians call “Times” may well have proven that its own time’s up.
BC Pires is an omega imps with Newsday. Read the full version of this column on Saturday at www.BCPires.com