Thursday, August 25, 2005

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Beloit College needlessly reminds me of my age

I have a summer birthday, and I am creeping ever closer to 40. Curiously, I seem to be the oldest member of my peer group, and so all of my friends take great delight in saying "Dude, you're old." at the appropriate moment.

In that spirit, it seems fitting to link to the Beloit College Mindset List for this year:

It is the creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Director of Public Affairs Ron Nief.

McBride, who directs Beloit’s First Year Initiatives (FYI) program for entering students, notes that "This year’s entering students have grown up in a country where the main business has become business, and where terrorism, from obscure beginnings, has built up slowly but surely to become the threat it is today. Cable channels have become as mainstream as the 'Big 3' used to be, formality in dress has become more quaint than ever, and Aretha Franklin, Kermit the Frog and Jimmy Carter have become old-timers."

“Each year,” according to Nief, “When Beloit releases the Mindset List, it is the birth year of the entering students that is the most disturbing fact for most readers. [Most students entering college this fall were born in 1987--DD] This year will come as no exception and, once again, the faculty will remain the same age as the students get younger.”

My highlights from this year's list:

They don't remember when "cut and paste" involved scissors.

Boston has been working on "The Big Dig" all their lives.

Iran and Iraq have never been at war with each other.

The federal budget has always been more than a trillion dollars.

Condoms have always been advertised on television.

Money put in their savings account the year they were born earned almost 7% interest.

Southern fried chicken, prepared with a blend of 11 herbs and spices, has always been available in China.

Tom Landry never coached the Cowboys.

Entertainment Weekly has always been on the newsstand.

They never saw a Howard Johnson's with 28 ice cream flavors.

They have grown up in a single superpower world.

And, in conclusion:

They have always been challenged to distinguish between news and entertainment on cable TV.

posted by Dan on 08.25.05 at 10:01 AM


"Hey Nineteen, that's Ree'tha Franklin
She don't remember the queen of soul"

- Steely Dan in a song from waaaay back.

As for

"Iran and Iraq have never been at war with each other."
Most americans didn't know Iran and Iraq were at war at the time. They are often surprised to discover this.

"They have always been challenged to distinguish between news and entertainment on cable TV."
I had a professor in college who was a communist. He had once been an editor for Time. When he got the job he was curious to know how they justified his position given his admitted out look. His boss said simply this. ' Don't write anything the american public doesn't already know.' News is entertainment. I think it always was.

posted by: exclab on 08.25.05 at 10:01 AM [permalink]

> They never saw a Howard Johnson's with 28 ice
> cream flavors.

The last officially licensed Howard Johnson's ice cream parlor west of the Mississippi, located in Kirkwood Missouri, closed last year (early 2004). The owner said he thought there were still two left on the east coast operating under the original license. So, if they ever tried retracing the old Route 66, they could have done this.


posted by: sPh on 08.25.05 at 10:01 AM [permalink]

My family and I visited China in 1988 (I was twelve). Having heard about the new KFC in Bejing back in the states (and having taken a dislike to the local fare; though not as much as my sick mother), I insisted we go there. It was three stories tall and directly catty-corner to Tiannamen Square. The local cabbies called it something like Kendurgee. We went there several times. It was wonderful and it was always packed. The life-size Col. Sanders outside was hilarious.

posted by: ElamBend on 08.25.05 at 10:01 AM [permalink]

They won't remember a President whose name was not either Bush or Clinton, and who was not educated at Yale University. That by itself is something of a national humiliation.

posted by: Zathras on 08.25.05 at 10:01 AM [permalink]

Some "golden oldies" radio stations now consider the 80s as the start of the definition of oldies.

Oh, Lord help us.

"And now, a triple play by Whitesnake!"

By the way, 40 is still very young. I came to that realization when I turned 50.

posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 08.25.05 at 10:01 AM [permalink]

They don't remember American Motors.

I worked for American Motors. Who could forget the Gremlin and Pacer?

posted by: Fred on 08.25.05 at 10:01 AM [permalink]

I used to like the Beloit list but this one seems to have jumped the shark. Overall, the comments are pretty lame -- "don't remember American Motors." Until I read this, I didn't remember American Motors. And I drove in a Pacer!

posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on 08.25.05 at 10:01 AM [permalink]

How bout these: SNL has never been funny (though they continued to watch and imagine it so) and the best serious actor in Hollywood is Bill Murray.

posted by: Kelli on 08.25.05 at 10:01 AM [permalink]

How about "they don't know where the expression 'jumping the shark' came from"?

posted by: Zathras on 08.25.05 at 10:01 AM [permalink]

Dude, you're old.

Anyway, about the Beloit list: one thing to remember is that the list is aimed at faculty (to remind them to keep a damper on humiliatingly dated references; I wonder whether it works)-- who can range in age from 26 or so to 80+. American Motors might not mean much to some of us, but there are undoubtedly some in that age range who will be shocked to realize that it's not in the froshs' vocabulary.

posted by: Jacob T. Levy on 08.25.05 at 10:01 AM [permalink]

I used to ride around in the back of a Pacer, and the hit song from a cassette that I received for my bar mitzvah has played on "classic rock" stations for a few years now.

But I still don't know where the "jump the shark" comes from.

posted by: trotsky on 08.25.05 at 10:01 AM [permalink]

I'm a 42-yr old professor, and I think that the students would prefer my humiliatingly dated references to my half-baked -- and excruciatingly lame -- attempts to invoke 50 Cent or Eminem or whomever it is that the 18-24 demographic is downloading this nanosecond! "Yo, dawgs, it's a difference between International Relations and International Politics -- ya heard?!?"

To Trotsky: "Jump the Shark." That moment in a T.V. series where the writers have obviously reached into the Weird Beyond and everything goes downhill from there. Commonly thought to come from the episode of "Happy Days" where Fonzie -- by this stage in the series, a water-skier (!) -- jumped over a shark. Often associated with a new actor playing an established role (think Darren on "Bewitched") or, more recently, an obvious attempt to be topical ("The West Wing" jumped the shark after 9/11).

posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on 08.25.05 at 10:01 AM [permalink]

I remember AMC, I was in Milwaukee at college when the Kenosha palnt was bought by Chrysler and closed, I think that ended AMC. Kenosha was the strangest place to drive around in at that time in that everyone drove a Pacer, Hornet, Eagle, or someother unknown AMC. The Javelin, AMX, and Ramblers were good, but the most under apprciated car was the Rebel.


posted by: BCN on 08.25.05 at 10:01 AM [permalink]

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