Coping with Change

...people are feeling deeply anxious about something. It’s the story of our time: the pace of change in technology, globalization and climate have started to outrun the ability of our political systems to build the social, educational, community, workplace and political innovations needed for some citizens to keep up.

We have globalized trade and manufacturing, and we have introduced robots and artificial intelligence systems, far faster than we have designed the social safety nets, trade surge protectors and educational advancement options that would allow people caught in this transition to have the time, space and tools to thrive. It’s left a lot of people dizzy and dislocated. ...

And these rapid changes are taking place when our politics has never been more gridlocked and unable to respond with just common sense — like governments borrowing money at near zero interest to invest in much-needed infrastructure that creates jobs and enables us to better exploit these technologies.

- Thomas Friedman, You Break It, You Own It, NYT, June 29, 2016

There is a portion of the population that feels threatened by unrelenting change....
- Charles M. Blow, Trump Reflects White Male Fragility, NYT, Aug. 4, 2016

An optimistic view of change:

To the Editor:

Let’s face the facts — no one likes change, even if our lives are not good, but change was necessary. Our government was at a stalemate, totally dysfunctional. We needed a major revamping.

But who could possibly do it? We needed someone brave, honest, independent, wealthy, thick-skinned, successful and brash enough to fight the total entrenchment of establishments strangling our American dream. Someone who was comfortable in front of the media. We got what we wished. Donald Trump is not perfect, but he is perfect for change.

We are now on a path into the unknown — an adventure that the American spirit has always embraced. We lost that spirit for a while, but Mr. Trump reminded us how we can regain it. Mr. Trump has proved himself in business but, more important, he has proved himself in politics in an unconventional but brilliant campaign. He defied all odds.

How can we doubt that he will succeed in his next phase — making America great again?

- Charles Slane, New York, Letter to the Editor

Jose Valera recently lamented the speed of change:

“Change has always been happening, but in the last few years, it seems to have happened so fast.”
(He was lamenting in particular the rate of gentrification of his East Austin neighborhood.)

- Joe Gose, ‘Coolness Factor’ Draws Developers to East Austin, Tex., NYT, Feb. 14, 2017

Whatever the social norms, there are questions about the wisdom of tinkering with basic biological processes. And there is general agreement that reproductive technology is progressing faster than consideration of the legal and ethical questions it raises.

“We have come to realize that scientific developments are outpacing our ability to think them through,” Dr. Adashi said. “It’s a challenge for which we are not fully prepared. It would be good to be having the conversation before we are actually confronting the challenges.”
- TAMAR LEWIN, Babies From Skin Cells? Prospect Is Unsettling to Some Experts, NYT, MAY 16, 2017

Psychologists have long understood that in disaster scenarios most people behave strangely, going through normal routines in abnormal situations.... The conclusion they draw is that in stressful or shocking situations, the human mind finds it difficult to adjust to rapidly changing circumstances. It is comforting to assume this behavior is limited to disaster scenarios, but... disasters might offer more general insights into how human minds ignore evidence that runs counter to cherished beliefs.
- Douglas Bulloch, China's Debt Bomb Just Keeps Getting Bigger, Forbes, DEC 15, 2017

Paetyn, an impish 1-year-old, has two fathers. One of them gave birth to her.

As traditional notions of gender shift and blur, parents and children like these are redefining the concept of family.

Paetyn’s father Tanner, 25, is a trans man: He was born female but began transitioning to male in his teens, and takes the male hormone testosterone.

“I was born a man in a female body,” he said. ...
Trans men have conceived on purpose, but Tanner isn’t one of them. In his case, it happened by accident after he missed a few doses of testosterone.... ...
Starting in his teens, Tanner’s transition from female to male had been a series of steps over a number of years. As a child, he was a tomboy.... ...
He began struggling with anxiety and depression connected to “gender dysphoria,” the sense that his body and outward gender did not match his identity. ...
On the birth certificate, he is identified as Paetyn’s mother, something that he and David hope eventually to have changed so that they are both listed as fathers.

Tanner could not bear to nurse Paetyn: Breasts epitomized the gender he had abandoned. A few months later, he underwent “top surgery” to have them removed.
After Paetyn’s birth, he went back on testosterone. ...
“It helps chill me out. I still have anxiety and depression, but not as much.” ...
“I hope she’s straight,” Tanner said. “It’s hard, to struggle with coming out, not feeling safe. Anyone in this community, they’re always walking around looking over their shoulder. There are people who will hurt you just because you’re gay or trans. It’s scary. If you’re straight and white in this society you’re kind of better off.
- Denise Grady, A Family in Transition: Two fathers and the baby girl they never expected., NYT, June 16, 2018

What could become of such a child of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when he should wake up to find himself required to play the game of the twentieth? Had he been consulted, would he have cared to play the game at all, holding such cards as he held, and suspecting that the game was to be one of which neither he nor any one else back to the beginning of time knew the rules or the risks or the stakes?
- Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, Chapter 1, 1907

The calculation was clouded by the undetermined values of twentieth-century thought, but the story will show his reasons for thinking that, in essentials like religion, ethics, philosophy; in history, literature, art; in the concepts of all science, except perhaps mathematics, the American boy of 1854 stood nearer the year 1 than to the year 1900. The education he had received bore little relation to the education he needed.
- Henry Adams. The Education of Henry Adams, (Kindle Locations 770-773).

They could teach little worth learning, for their tastes were antiquated and their knowledge was ignorance to the next generation.
- Henry Adams. The Education of Henry Adams, (Kindle Locations 2855-2856).

Globalization, the internet, automation, mass migration, the emergence of India and China, the financial crisis of 2008, the rise of women and their displacing of men in more service-oriented economies, the civil rights movement and the emancipation of other groups and the loss of status for white people — these are just some of what we have lived through of late. Yes, the world has gotten better for hundreds of millions. But Fukuyama reminds us that across much of the West, people have suffered dislocation and elites have captured the fruits.
- Anand Giridharadas, What Is Identity?, NYT, Aug. 27, 2018

My experience at the United Nations Security Council over the last five years has led me to see a harsh truth: The world is growing more dangerous and less predictable by the day. While the tectonic plates of power are shifting under our feet, driven in no small part by the combined effects of a technology revolution and the rise of China, we are also witnessing the return of heightened competition among the major powers.
- François Delattre, The World Grows More Dangerous by the Day, NYT, June 13, 2019

When I respond to a text or email with “O.K.,” I mean just that: O.K. As in: I hear you, I understand, I agree, I will do that. If I reply with “K,” I’m just being more informal.

However, I have been informed by my Millennial and Gen Z co-workers that the new thing I’m supposed to type is “kk.” To write “O.K.” or “K,” they tell me, is to be passive-aggressive or imply that I would like the recipient to drop dead.
-Caity Weaver, Typing These Two Letters Will Scare Your Young Co-Workers, NYT, Nov. 21, 2019

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