Jeff Bezos may get brickbats over Amazon’s treatment of its warehouse workers and Bill Gates may find himself at the centre of a coronavirus conspiracy theory, but for surefire billionaire Bond supervillain antics, we can always rely on Downtime perennial Elon Musk to deliver the goods.
After his recent foray into the world of EDM and a humiliating incident involving the wrong kind of balls, Musk and his partner, Canadian pop chanteuse Grimes, this week announced the birth of their first child, a bouncing baby boy to be named, er, X Æ A-12, pronounced, possibly, Shy Artwelf. Shae Atwolf? Shee Aidwellv?
Grimes, who Downtime sincerely hopes is safe, took to Twitter to explain the unique moniker. X, she said, represents the “unknown variable”, Æ is an elven spelling of Ai, meaning love or artificial intelligence, and A-12 represents the Lockheed A-12, a defunct American spy plane and forerunner of the SR-71 Blackbird, the doting couple’s favourite plane. “No weapons, no defences, just speed. Great in battle, but non-violent,” she added.
But the true beauty of X Æ A-12 as a name is that it defies the act of definition. In a way, Musk and Grimes are democratising the act of childbirth, giving stakeholders the opportunity to ascribe their own meaning to the name, a collective individualist gesture that at its heart speaks to the inherent contradictions of the late-capitalist condition. Truly X Æ A-12 is a child for our times.
For Grimes, X might represent the unknown, but we could just as easily say it marks the spot; Æ is the noise we make when we hit our thumb with a hammer; and the A12 goes from the Blackwall Tunnel to Lowestoft via Colchester.
When it was a young column, Downtime used to spend childhood holidays with relatives in Lowestoft, Britain’s most easterly town, made famous by Charles Dickens in David Copperfield, and today home to a Birds Eye frozen foods factory dedicated to the production of potato waffles!
According to a 2019 documentary presented by no less than Gregg Wallace, at full steam the factory is capable of producing a staggering million potato waffles every 24 hours!
Moreover, as we all know, potato waffles are waffly versatile, indeed, almost as versatile as Musk’s PR strategist must be by now.