Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
The future is largely being created by strange people.
Which may or may not be a very fine thing.
Oh, what am I saying?
Just look at us Earthlings now, fretting about leaving the planet within 100 years because we're destroying it.
Does that sound like something to look forward to?
Yet here are these peculiar Silicon Valley titans -- many of whom are desperate to become robots -- who claim they're already making the world a better place, while preparing us for the ultimate escape.
I'm driven to such (end-of-)existential thoughts after learning about a school called Ad Astra.
It's an interesting place.
Well, except for the fact that it teaches neither sports nor music.
Lordy, what else is there? There's cooking, I suppose. There's dancing. And, of course, writing.
Ad Astra, though, has a particular bent. Elon Musk's bent. He finances the whole thing, after all.
Situated within the home of Space X in Hawthorne, California, the school has as pupils Musk's sons and around 35 other supremely bright children of the wise and the hopeful.
Even its email address offers a glimpse of its direction: email@example.com.
I fear that's not a squished-up version of Tod Are Mighty Things.
On the positive side, Ad Astra has a heavy focus on not only science-type things but ethics -- an essence that Stanford seems only just to have just discovered and Musk himself has tried to emphasize, especially with respect to Artificial Intelligence.
The school even teaches empathy, one of the characteristics so risibly missing from too many Silicon Valley companies.
On the somewhat more Oh-For-Gawd's-Sake-Just-Stop-You-Daft-Nerd side, these 7 to 14-year-olds are being asked to give the equivalent of a TED Talk. With the kink of severe feedback.
Such as ratings on their eye contact, their content and their persuasiveness.
The kids, according to Dahn, "take it to heart."
Wouldn't you if you were aged 7 to 14?.
I tremble with struggle, however, at another aspect of the school's offering.
It doesn't teach foreign languages.
Dahn's interviewer, entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, says that Musk doesn't see the point of learning a foreign language because we'll all soon have instant translations being pumped into our ears.
To which some might sniff: "So why teach math? Or, indeed, anything? We have calculators and computers for that numbers and knowledge stuff."
Languages are, it appears, just words and phrases, ones and zeros to this school.
As opposed to, for example, learning languages leading to learning about the ways people from elsewhere have brains wired a little differently. Which might lead to your brain being wired a little differently, too.
In the video, Dahn is snortily dismissive: "We're talking about your brain being wired through an A.I. agent anyway."
You are, sir.
Others might be talking about the pain of listening to something they see as twisted techno twaddle.
I contacted Musk's office to ask about his view of foreign languages and will update, should I hear.
It's surely true, though, that those who speak more than one language can be blessed with a grasp of alternative perspectives.
It's odd how often those who only speak in one tongue can seem a touch, well, insular. Or even lurch toward startling ignorance of things foreign.
Dahn also explained why there's no time for sports or music. "The day is dense. There's really no downtime."
Oh, is it just the day that's dense?
Then again, perhaps the parents of these kids are so bathed in lucre that they can afford to ferry their kids after school to the L.A. Chargers for a little tackle torture and then slip over to the Walt Disney Concert Hall for a little fiddling with the Philharmonic.
Of course, you might conclude, these kids are different.
They choose, says Dahn, to study Anna Karenina and Homer's Iliad. They read the latter "not because that sounds good -- although it does," said Dahn.
No, no, they wanted to read something that would "stand the test of time."
Isn't that what your 7-year-old always pesters you for?
It's heartening that Dahn insists Ad Astra is all about creating a school that kids actually enjoy.
There are no final grades and kids can omit subjects they simply don't like.
I confess I don't look back on the schools I went to with the same level of affection as their enthusiasm for now tapping me for money.
Instinctively, therefore, I want to believe that there are more enjoyable ways to educate kids and Ad Astra could be one.
I fear a few might wonder, however, that this school has, as its true inspiration, the need to create more humans who bear a remarkable resemblance to Elon Musk and his fellow tech company founders.
And I thought geniuses were born, not taught.