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Generational “face-palm”

Sometimes, I’m ashamed of my generation. Tom Friedman once labeled us “Generation Q,” because we go about changing society quietly, without the overt protests of the Baby Boomers. I usually agree with Friedman, begrudgingly, because people born in the ‘80s and ‘90s can be very lethargic. And when this generation does get riled up, they can still be an embarrassment.

The riots at Penn State over the firing of football coach Joe Paterno are absolutely shameful. College students kept their earbuds in through the invasion of Iraq and the 2008 financial crisis, and they get angry over this?

I just graduated college, and I know that it takes a lot to get this generation of students to protest anything. That is what makes this situation so frustrating: it’s not that students protest everything like they did in the ‘60s; the Penn State students chose the firing of Paterno as their moment of anger.

Throughout American history, each generation has made strides to end social injustice and human suffering, but there was only so much each generation could do. The “Founding Fathers” could not end slavery, the “Greatest Generation” could not give everyone equal rights.

There is still work to be done. American culture is too tolerant of sexual abuse. Unless the suspect is Michael Jackson or the Catholic Church, the accused usually get the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think anyone in this generation thinks covering up pedophilia is okay; the fact that students would put football above that is disgusting.

The greatest failure of this generation is not that they are “quiet,” it’s that they seem too distracted to consistently stand up for their values. The fact that Paterno did not intervene to stop the rape is unbelievable for the people who admire him (and everyone else). Seeing Penn State students sidestep that conundrum by defending Paterno makes them look like, well, a bunch of spoiled kids. Someone has to stand up for what’s right. Will this generation every be ready?

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Sometimes, whining is the only answer

For the second time in two months, I’ve been displaced. First, it was Hurricane Irene, now, it’s the historic/legendary/unprecedented “October Storm.” The house has no electricity or running water, and all the local hotels are booked, so I bugged out to a relative’s place upstate.

I’d like to say that things could be worse, because that’s true. But that sort of belittles people who have been inconvenienced by this storm and, quite frankly, I’m having a hard time looking on the bright side of this situation. NYSEG claims 90% of customers will get their power back by Wednesday, but their neighbors at Connecticut Light & Power say it will take at least a week more. This was a big storm, but how long does it take to clear some downed trees and put wires back up?

Some might say that I’m whining; other people are worse off and maybe I don’t appreciate the hard work line crews are doing to restore power. Perhaps I am whining, but that seems to be the only way to get anything done. During Irene, I waited days for CL&P to remove the downed tree near my house; they claimed they were overwhelmed by the unprecedented amount of damage caused by the storm. Eventually, I got fed up and wrote the governor an e-mail. It turned out that CL&P was understaffed and was refusing to let their crews work overtime; they’re now under investigation and my e-mail is part of the record.

This time, it sounds like the same story. When people attach terms like “historic” or “unprecedented” to this storm, they just give power companies an excuse to drag their feet. History is all about the past, so let’s focus on fixing the damage and getting on with our lives before we decide what this storm’s place in history will be.

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Trapped in New Jersey

I’m trapped in New Jersey. Thanks to Hurricane Irene, my house is without power, so I took the trip down to ‘Jersey to move my brother into his dorm as an opportunity to escape. Now, thanks to additional hurricane damage on I-287 North, I’m stuck. The frustrating thing is, I never should have had to leave in the first place.

Irene attacked the Northeast with 60 mph winds and nearly eight inches of rainfall, but my town didn’t get any of that. No one’s house blew away, no one’s street was flooded. There were a few downed trees (which took the power lines with them), but that happens all the time.

This rural part of the country is prone to freak thunderstorms and, with so many trees near power lines, it is not uncommon for the lines to come down. Usually the local utilities company, Connecticut Light and Power, is caught off guard, but this time they had almost a week to prepare.

Instead, they spent all of Sunday bellyaching about how it was too windy to send their crews out when, in fact, the sun was out in parts of the state. They politely explained their policy of focusing on “high priority” outages first, but if those “high priorities” were so dangerous to work on, why didn’t they go work where it was not dangerous?

This isn’t just one spoiled brat’s rant about not being able to flush the toilet. When I left yesterday, there trees blocking several of the main roads, including one that was suspended in midair by power lines. That seems like a safety risk to everyone, but we just have to deal with it because we don’t live in a metropolitan area; restoring power to a few country bumpkins won’t be much of a PR coup for CL&P.

Irene was a catastrophe for some, but not for everyone. Instead of focusing on the drama, the men and women with the boom trucks should focus on fixing this mess.

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How do you start a blog?

Some call the Internet the democratizer of media; it gives everyone the same ability to reach a mass audience. That view assumes that everyone with a computer has something to say.

For one reason or another, I have always felt an impulse to write; this blog is the latest manifestation of that impulse. With college and grad school over, I’m in need of another venue.

I do have things to say, but I admit that I am just one of many such people. Hopefully, I can add something that is informative, thought provoking, and aesthetically pleasing to the existing conversation. Whether anyone reads this or not, I will still enjoy writing it.

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