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I've Got A Super Bad Feeling About This | Gimme Schalter No. 40

Gimme Schalter
I've Got A Super Bad Feeling About This | Gimme Schalter No. 40
By Ty Schalter • Issue #40 • View online
Twitter truly felt like The Hell Site to me this week, for the first time since Joe Biden’s blessedly uneventful inauguration. Every time I opened it there was bad news—and not just bad news, but self-perpetuating bad news. Multi-faceted bad news. A dystopian rainbow of bad news: for victims of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence, for people who don’t want to get shot to death, for trans kids (and cis kids). There was even bad news for soccer fans who’d like to get into games they bought tickets for without getting pepper-sprayed by cops.
And of course, to cap it off, the terrible rocket car emerald man’s series of increasingly preposterous decrees culminated in a declaration that Tesla would lay off 10 percent of its ~100,000-person workforce due to his “super bad feeling” about the economy.
Elon Musk, wittingly or un-, perfectly encapsulates why everything’s so terrible right now: The rich and the powerful sense they’ll soon have the opportunity to claw even more wealth, empowerment, and freedom away from us—so they’re getting started early.
People started attacking Muslims immediately after Trump was elected, not bothering to wait until his inauguration to get down to the business of hate, discrimination, and oppression. Over the last few weeks, you can just feel corporate and political leaders unfurling their ghoulish sails in hope of riding a red wave this November.
All the corporations that were just posting black squares on Instagram for #BlackLivesMatter a little while ago are now throwing LGBTQ+ kids and reproductive rights under the bus in anticipation of some more sweet, sweet corporate tax cuts.
What’s worse, as GenX tech moguls and Silicon Valley venture-capital titans age toward AARP eligibility, what used to be a culture of enterprising young world-changers with “super liberal” attitudes has curdled into pretty much straight fascism—where greed is good, worth equals worthiness, and no cost is too great to try and keep their legacy (and ego) secure.
Trying to stop multi-multi-billionaire plutocrats from putting conspiracy cranks in Congress, right-wing whackjobs in federal judgeships, and laws on the books to keep us from stopping them? It seems all but impossible. It feels like whether or not Trump will again bear the GOP’s standard in 2024 is irrelevant—our nation’s wealth and power brokers have picked up Trumpism’s banner, and they’re running with it.
But amidst all this bad news, there’s good news: Musk and his ilk aren’t nearly as smart as they think they are.
Laying off 10 percent of your workforce while prices are high and profits are higher makes no sense. Laying off 10 percent of your workforce when competition for labor has never been more intense is idiotic. It seems like Musk is trying to make ‘recession’ happen, to augur the Republican takeover he and the rest of the tech bros think is coming—but all he’s doing is making himself broke.
Each ignorant tweet and ill-advised email drives Tesla’s stock further into the ground; today’s stupidity pushed TSLA shares down 40 percent from November’s all-time high. His stake in the company was supposed to help fund his bid for Twitter—whose stock price has also fallen precipitously, meaning Musk is currently committed to spend billions he doesn’t have to buy every share of Twitter for 135% of what they’re currently worth.
I know it’s no comfort when the doomscroll is as terrible as it’s ever been, and too many of us are too tired, too sick, too burnt out to even contemplate the kind of rage-fueled hypervigilance that carried us through the last six years. But remember: power comes from the people, and there’s a lot more of us than there are of them. Their wealth is theoretical, based on our labor. Their power is based on their wealth. They can’t do anything we don’t let them.
I don’t want to go back to waking up every morning afraid for our workers’ rights, our civil rights, our human rights. But I will absolutely wake up every morning and fight to protect them.

Everything Awesome
The neverending debate about “Defund the Police” misses the point entirely: that it’s both an actual viable policy goal and a useful talking point for changing people’s understanding about how much money we waste on cops who literally do not do what you think their jobs are.
The headline is pretty incendiary, but Sammon‘s walkthrough of all the ways throwing money at police is not just wasteful but counterproductive is calm, clear-eyed, and rational.
My mom got me a subscription to a magazine called The Game Players’ Guide to Nintendo Games when I was in third grade, and I’ve been consuming videogame media nonstop ever since.
Yet as an adult, I’m constantly learning about women who were integral to the creation of landmark games played by millions—games whose male creators I read about in countless magazine articles over the years…but, again, I’d never heard of.
Interesting how that happens!
I’m super thankful Yarwood did such great work adding Stamper to the list of non-forgotten video-game pioneers who happened to also be women.
Okay, uh, lemme explain.
It starts with the just-concluded seventh season of Friends at the Table, an actual-play tabletop-game podcast that is allllllll kinds of my jam. This season was way out of their usual wheelhouse, heavy on gothic horror and creepshow surrealism. In an attempt to bring it to a satisfying end, the cast elected to do individual one-on-one game sessions with DM/MC Austin Walker to wrap up each of their character’s arcs.
I loved the heck out of these episodes—and apparently so did Asercion, an artist and game designer who whomped up these amazing images of playing cards that…well…suffice it to say, there are layers upon layers of literal and metaphorical story and character references in here. Just brilliantly conceived and flawlessly executed.
As Republican politicians desperately pitch different ideas to turn schools into prisons rather than adopt common-sense gun control measures, Koerth’s 2018 article explaining the real roots of the teen-school-shooter phenomenon just got a 2022 update. Her explanation of the connection between “mental health” and teen gun violence has never been more important.
Last weekend, I put the novel drafting on hold and cranked out a short story for Uncanny Magazine‘s brief open submission period. I was really happy with how it came out—but I’m already working on revising it, on the assumption that acceptances will go to a handful of the ~1,800 people ahead of me in the slush pile.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Ty Schalter

The latest thoughts, hottest takes, and coolest work of Ty Schalter, a professional writer & talker (@FiveThirtyEight, @ThreeOutPod). Lots of sports, geeky stuff, social commentary and more.

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