A View Through Glass

Rants and ravings of a curmudgeon of Generation Y

Month: December 2013

A Review of “Generation Debt” by Anya Kamenetz

A couple days back I finished Generation Debt: How Our Future Was Sold Out for Student Loans, Bad Jobs, NoBenefits, and Tax Cuts for Rich Geezers–And How to Fight Back by Anya Kamenetz and quite frankly I had to let the book sit a couple days before writing this review simply because my thoughts on it are somewhat hard to pin down. On one hand the book is well written and the authors Yale education in journalism comes through as she is very upfront in the fact that she is biased towards a liberal ideology, she does present examples to justify her thoughts, and if you actually read the bibliography you can tell she actually did research for the book; but on the other hand, some of the cases she presents don’t exactly make for the strongest examples and that might help to explain the reviews this book gets on Amazon.com.

Now, as a whole I am quite sympathetic towards the author and I agree that most of the problems that she presents are problems that do affect members of Generation Y; however, on the same token, there are some cases in her book where she should have avoided using the case as it hurts her argument (e.g. maxed out their credit cards being “tourists in their own town”) which is used as ammunition against the book in the various one star reviews out there. It also doesn’t help that she does seem to fall for trap that the plural of anecdote is not data and there are a number of places where she hurts her case by not providing a larger data set.

Now, that said, I do think that each of the issues that she presents are valid issues that need to be addressed and I would be remiss if I didn’t admit to being a firm proponent of bringing back mandatory home economics classes for high school students to help avoid some of the very problems that she addresses. One of the big issues with Generation Y is that most people are largely financially illiterate (quick: if you have $1,000 on a credit card with 25% APR, how long and how much will you end up paying making only minimum payments?) and going back to my previous entry on why Generation Y Yuppies are unhappy, anyone that graduated from college during the recession had high chance of not getting a job fresh out of school which can impact them in the long run since most companies would rather hire the fresh graduates as opposed to the ones that graduated from school over one year ago.

All told, I would recommend reading the book if you get a chance since at a minimum is does enumerate the list of issues that affects Generation Y even if it does a very poor job in some cases of explaining why these are problems and defending the position. However, I do firmly agree with the advice she gives in the revised edition chapter “Looking Ahead”: pay off your debt, save money, and don’t spend more money than you make.

Following up on the Visionnaire fountain pen

Recently I posed a review of the Visionnaire fountain pen and given that a couple weeks have passed it seems a good time to followup. Since the Visionnaire was shipped to the general public, The Pen Addict reviewed it in Episode #83, a review appeared on Reddit, a comparison to the Leyica LY120 was made, as well as other Chinese fountain pens in general, a YouTube review was conducted, and some additional videos were made by another reviewer. Plus a number of backers have posed mini-reviews and comments on the Kickstarter page and while there have been some favorable comments, the vast majority of people posting on Kickstarter seems to be displeased the project and especially with the quality control or lack thereof. The creator of the project has also been very quiet and hasn’t addressed any of the comments on the quality control which I think is very telling. BHG Design has started a new Kickstarter campaign for a Visionnaire branded notebook that can include the pen and quite frankly I would advise anyone reading this to avoid the campaign.

I’ve tired to use the pen a couple more times since my initial review but the feed issues continue to be an issue and even when the feed is decent, the comment that I made about the pen feeling “top heavy” in the review applies and I find it hard to write with the pen for an extended period of time. Also, something that I failed to mention but other reviewers have which made me do an “Oh, yeah!” is that the pen doesn’t really have any good grip and over an extended priors of time I have found myself struggling to avoid it slipping while writing. Plus, the chrome plating continues to chip off and odds are given enough time I might have a copper pen instead of a chrome one.

In the event that you come across this post and are interested in starting to write with a fountain pen, my best advise would be to start the same way that I did: pick up a Lamy Safari (plus converter), some ink, and some decent paper and just start writing! If you also want to improve you handwriting then I suggest the following two books which I have been using myself:

Both of which do a good job of laying out the foundations after which it is just a matter of practicing enough to retrain yourself to write.