An Introduction to "Killing Time"

A warm hello to the freshmen and all of those people who only read The Eagle the first week of every school year. This column is entitled "Killing Time" primarily because that is all that its creators have done while writing it. The column is about nothing in particular and we like it that way.

To give you a little history, it was started last fall by Ira Weinschel and was shared by the two of us in the spring. Now he is in Prague and I am entirely too unmotivated to write every week, so it will once again be a semi-monthly gripe about the current state of affairs on campus or in that great big real world that awaits us all. Since three days of school is not long enough for the administration of this great institution to sufficiently piss me off, I'll invite you to feast your eyes on an old (and somewhat modified) article I whipped up nearly six months ago and forgot to submit to this great publication:

There has been a lot of whining on both sides of the generational fence lately. Baby boomers are sick of hearing us complain about lives that have been infinitely better than the ones they had. We insist on pointing out that their politics have destroyed our futures.

Our parents have some justification for growing weary of us venting our frustrations. They have provided for us much better than their parents did for most of them. We have had educational opportunities that they could not have dreamed up. We can travel to and study in more countries, win more scholarships and access information thousands of times more quickly. Many of us lived in nicer homes and drove nicer cars to nicer high schools that were half as far away.

But the boomers need to take a step back and realize that the world of education, technology, and careers was not stagnant for thousands of years before they became adults. Commencement speakers may joke to (and expect laughs from) groups of graduating seniors that they aren't quite as old as the dinosaurs, but even these comedian wanna-bes have to admit that their lives are better than their parents' were.

This is not to mention the fact that our generation faces much greater problems in a much more complex world than our parents grew up in. They never had to worry about nuclear waste, four-trillion-dollar deficits, job markets that require Masters degrees for some entry-level positions, or information superhighway ethical standards.

For these reasons, I have tended to agree with my contemporaries over most issues arising from the generational wars.

Until March 15, 1994.

That was the day that I read a Washington Post column by Art Buchwald which recounted a conversation between the author and a twenty-something administrative aide from the White House. The latter man had just been ordered to appear before the special counsel for the Whitewater investigation.

Quoting from the article: "'I don't understand it,' he said. 'Why are they upset because we wanted to know what was going on in an insignificant S&L land development?'....'Perhaps the media were afraid of another Watergate,' I suggested. 'What is a Watergate?' he asked."

Buchwald proceeds to explain to the naive government employee that it was a major scandal involving President Nixon and his aides. When he asks if the names Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Colson and Liddy mean anything to the young lad, the response is "They don't ring a bell. I was playing in the sandbox back then."

I have never been a huge fan of history. But you have to be a pretty big loser to be subpoenaed for your involvement in Whitewater and not know anything about Watergate. For that matter, if you're alive today and unaware of the significance of names like Haldeman and Liddy, you might as well be living under a rock somewhere in Utah.

Many people probably viewed this incident as another opportunity to knock Clinton for surrounding himself with morons. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but I don't think this is the problem.

It seems to me that the problem is us. As a collective age group, we are too quick to gripe about the mess that our parents have left us and too lazy to do anything about it.

As a member-in-good-standing of the Generation X Club as well as a supreme hypocrite, I myself am doing nothing but whining even as I write this column. But doesn't it make you worry occasionally that once we graduate from this pathetic university, we are going to be faced with a smack of reality that we will be no more prepared for than we were when we graduated from high school five or six years earlier?

Ask yourself what you have learned in the amount of time that you have spent here. (This question does not apply to new pick-up lines, ways to cheat the laundry machines, or innovative methods of turning beer cans into drug paraphernalia.) Perhaps the amount of time we spent at Quigley's whining about our problems might have been better spent learning about the world that surrounds us.

Whew. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I'm going to Babe's for a couple of pitchers. I should be there until mid-December, give or take a few exam days, so if you're ever up for a game of fooz, you'll know where to find me.

Join me again in two weeks when I'll tell you how to grow corn using only fluorescent dorm lights and the dust that collects under your bed.

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