Wednesday, November 5

Jubilation! Obama!


I am giddy over this election. I cried when I cast my ballot. I cried when Obama was declared president-elect. I cried during McCain's speech and during Obama's speech. I was thrilled for my son E, who was at Grant Park with that beautiful and ecstatic crowd.

I've turned into a church lady over Obama. My belief in God is shaky, but I pray every day for his safety and that of his family.

I'm so proud of the new generation that has stepped up in style to become whole-heartedly politically involved. Thank you so very much.

To my Republican friends and family: rest easy in the thought that the Dems do not have a congressional super-majority. We'll have to work together to get things done, in what I dearly hope will be a less polarized and bipartisan environment.

Earlier this year (9/25/08) I posted a review of "The Black Swan," Nassim Taleb's book about unexpected events, such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, that completely reset all our assumptions. I remember when many predicted a permanent Republican majority, and empire on which the sun would never set. Since then, events such as the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq war, and our financial debacle changed our world in ways we never anticipated.

I am happy about the political change that has swept our country, but even if you are not, I hope the thought of Black Swan events can give you hope for our future, particularly our economic future. For better or worse, whether we like it or not, unexpected events (as well as planned-for and worked-for events) continue to re-shape our lives.

This is one of the unexpected benefits of aging: my perspective has changed from pessimism to optimism as I have seen so many difficult situations change for the better. Yes, I'm sometimes Future Shocked, and I'm not a Pollyanna: I fiercely protect my right to cynicism.

Here are some of the changes I've experienced:

I was in on the beginning of the Internet (was married to an Internet pioneer). The Internet, as "Wired" magazine predicted, has changed every significant institution in our lives. A Black Swan event!

I used to work on large-scale software development on huge mainframe computers -- a field that no longer exists.

I'm in on revolutionary change in librarianship, change that has shifted our focus from our bread-and-butter reference work (superseded by Google and Wikipedia), to social software and computer access. (The books survive!) The field is changing and shrinking.

My son's diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome came at a time when schools, doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists, and families were almost completely ignorant about it. For long years he and a cohort of similar kids were misunderstood, punished, and placed in school settings that were exactly wrong for them. They were the leading edge of a phenomenon no one understood. The changes here were both an increase in incidence of the AS, and in our understanding of it. For J and for many other kids, the diagnosis came as a relief, and it changed everything.

Now a new political coalition has been forged around a remarkable man, a man for this moment. Whatever does or does not happen from here, we have been witness to a pivotal moment in history.

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