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Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations    by Thomas L. Friedman order for
Thank You for Being Late
by Thomas L. Friedman
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2017 (2016)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Carrol Wolverton

I showed my husband the title of this book. Always on time, he just shook his head. He's a retired refugee from the Rust Belt who worked for such giants as Western Electric, RCA, and International Harvester all no more. And that's what this well-written book is all about. The age of multiple accelerations is upon us. What took a hundred years before, takes ten years now. The changes are too much too fast for most people, and we have world-wide backlash on multiple fronts.

The author's perspective comes from being an eye witness to history as an award winning journalist for The New York Times. He sees three forces at work: technology, globalization, and climate change. This age of acceleration is fueled by the marketplace, Mother Nature, and Moore's law, which says that 'computational processing power will double ... every two years.' What in 1900 took one generation to achieve now takes only fifteen years.

Data is the new oil creating seamless apps. The changes are so fast as to be disorienting. We have entered a computational supernova. We have left the industrial age and now have a computer driven supernova economy and are currently at 18 % of our digital potential. Further, we've entered a super connected world at a dizzying pace. It's a river of constant change. Those staying current are constantly learning and re-learning. Globalization is driven by everyone world-wide creating interconnected digital flows.

There exist some black elephants causing problems: global warming, deforestation, ocean acidification, and biodiversity extinction. In his four decades as a journalist, the author's gone from a manual typewriter to wireless internet transmission. He says a skill set is now more important than a degree. Because of the rate of change, learning must be lifelong learning.

The 9-5 workday concept is gone. Prominent forces are the market, Moore's Law, world-wide interdependence and Mother Nature. America now has a much more humble role in all this. The most adaptable will survive weather change, technology change, and globalization. The author speaks at length about his old neighborhood where family was most important. Community is everything in his view. He speaks of the Regan era as bringing in name calling and nastiness. Transitions are a bitch. 'Between 2005 to 2014 81% of the U.S. saw real incomes flatten or decline.'

Making it in America is becoming more and more difficult. Efforts are affected by a decline in the Protestant work ethic, creating a yawning gap between the haves and have nots. We have bad work habits fueled by fake news. We need communities to support us. Those not making it are back-lashing. Drugs have taken their toll. The most adaptable will survive. The whole climate has changed, fueled by weather, technology, and globalization. Transitions are most difficult, but those making them will succeed. He names names and dates dates, often from the perspective of one who has been there. This is no talking head.

He added an addendum about the Trump era having a few flaws. The good news is, with a strong sense of community behind us, we can handle the changes and change ourselves as well. Companies are telling us they will train workers to do specialized tasks, but workers must have the soft skills to handle the work, no bad habits, no fake news, and a life-long willingness to work, learn, and relearn.

What is missing is a second addendum: the tsunami of bad press surrounding the antics of Harvey Weinstein. Women, treated properly, will add another positive mindset to the massive changes, a whole new quality, and a perspective that is often lost because of bad treatment and low wages. No more Al Franken antics, either.

Meanwhile, my husband listens to an oldies radio station playing on an equally old clock radio, still shaking his head, while streaming a football game on his laptop. He will always be on time.

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