1. The meaning of "weather" has changed forever.
Formerly innocuous, neutral, pleasant at worst—the safest of topics.
Now dark, ominous, spooky. Politically divisive.
2. The "economy" will not "recover."
3. The meaning of "retirement" has changed forever.
Formerly gilded, Floridian, populist, gaudy, Hawaiian shirt-patterned.
Now as cruel and senseless as "private island."
4. The meanings of "media," "information," "entertainment," "communication," "knowledge" have changed forever.
Formerly abstract, formal, dull.
Now quietly exploding in your pocket. Millions of pennies.
5. The meaning of "friend."
6. The meaning of "war" has changed forever.
Formerly dark, ominous, spooky. Politically divisive.
Now innocuous, tedious, inscrutable—a category of news as unavoidable and unlistenable as "crop report."
Why? my baby daughter will someday ask, abruptly shifting the burden of explaining this mess onto my generation. 78 million relieved boomers may sigh quietly into their Hawaiian shirt-patterned caskets. She will never know it's possible for her country not to be at war, that "war" formerly meant the exception, not the rule.
7. And to my someday baby granddaughter:
The meaning of "trees" has changed forever.
Now branching data structures.
Now cited for discharges of hexavalent chromium into sewers, lack of a permit to store hazardous waste, and failure to train workers.
9. The meaning of "meaning" has changed forever.
10. But "air" is still "free."