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They don't know 'nuthin'

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By Becky Cassell, Editor

Do you remember the Jolly Green Giant? What about a card catalog? Have you ever "shaken down" a thermometer? Remember when we had to watch the evening news to find out what had happened in the world?

I do. And I have.

But not so for most of this year's college freshmen.

Each August for the past decade, Wisconsin's Beloit College has released what it has termed a "Mindset List." The list is the creation of Beloit's Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Emeritus Public Affairs Director Ron Nief.

McBride and Nief note that the Mindset List is not a chronological listing of things that happened in 1991, the year today's college freshmen were born. Instead, they say, it's an effort to identify the worldview of 18-year-olds in the fall of 2009. Of course, they allow, students come from many backgrounds and different traditions and these generalizations may not apply to all.

The two also add the following disclaimer: "It is also not deliberately designed to make readers feel really old!"

Coulda fooled me ... By the time I got to No. 50, I was feeling decidedly ancient. Of course, I was long out of college before these students were born (generally 1991).

It's interesting reading, for sure. And the differences certainly show one's age.

Read on ... I reprint the Mindset List with the professors' permission.

1. For these students, Martha Graham, Pan American Airways, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, The Dallas Times Herald, Gene Roddenberry and Freddie Mercury have always been dead.

2. Dan Rostenkowski, Jack Kevorkian and Mike Tyson have always been felons.

3. The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables.

4. They have never used a card catalog to find a book.

5. Margaret Thatcher has always been a former prime minister.

6. Salsa has always outsold ketchup.

7. Earvin "Magic" Johnson has always been HIV-positive.

8. Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.

9. They have been preparing for the arrival of HDTV all their lives.

10. Rap music has always been mainstream.

11. Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream has always been a flavor choice.

12. Someone has always been building something taller than the Willis (née Sears) Tower in Chicago.

13. The KGB has never officially existed.

14. Text has always been hyper.

15. They never saw the "Scud Stud" (but there have always been electromagnetic stud finders.)

16. Babies have always had a Social Security Number.

17. They have never had to "shake down" an oral thermometer.

18. Bungee jumping has always been socially acceptable.

19. They have never understood the meaning of R.S.V.P.

20. American students have always lived anxiously with high-stakes educational testing.

21. Except for the present incumbent, the President has never inhaled.

22. State abbreviations in addresses have never had periods.

23. The European Union has always existed.

24. McDonald's has always been serving Happy Meals in China.

25. Condoms have always been advertised on television.

26. Cable television systems have always offered telephone service and vice versa.

27. Christopher Columbus has always been getting a bad rap.

28. The American health care system has always been in critical condition.

29. Bobby Cox has always managed the Atlanta Braves.

30. Desperate smokers have always been able to turn to Nicoderm skin patches.

31. There has always been a Cartoon Network.

32. The nation's key economic indicator has always been the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

33. Their folks could always reach for a Zoloft.

34. They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.

35. Women have always outnumbered men in college.

36. We have always watched wars, coups, and police arrests unfold on television in real time.

37. Amateur radio operators have never needed to know Morse code.

38. Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Latvia, Georgia, Lithuania and Estonia have always been independent nations.

39. It's always been official: President Zachary Taylor did not die of arsenic poisoning.

40. Madonna's perspective on sex has always been well documented.

41. Phil Jackson has always been coaching championship basketball.

42. Ozzy Osbourne has always been coming back.

43. Kevin Costner has always been Dancing with Wolves, especially on cable.

44. There have always been flat screen televisions.

45. They have always eaten Berry Berry Kix.

46. Disney's Fantasia has always been available on video, and It's a Wonderful Life has always been on Moscow television.

47. Smokers have never been promoted as an economic force that deserves respect.

48. Elite American colleges have never been able to fix the price of tuition.

49. Nobody has been able to make a deposit in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International.

50. Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.

51. Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.

52. They have never been Saved by the Bell.

53. Someone has always been asking: "Was Iraq worth a war?"

54. Most communities have always had a mega-church.

55. Natalie Cole has always been singing with her father.

56. The status of gays in the military has always been a topic of political debate.

57. Elizabeth Taylor has always reeked of White Diamonds.

58. There has always been a Planet Hollywood.

59. For one reason or another, California's future has always been in doubt.

60. Agent Starling has always feared the Silence of the Lambs.

61. "Womyn" and "waitperson" have always been in the dictionary.

62. Members of Congress have always had to keep their checkbooks balanced since the closing of the House Bank.

63. There has always been a computer in the Oval Office.

64. CDs have never been sold in cardboard packaging.

65. Avon has always been "calling" in a catalog.

66. NATO has always been looking for a role.

67. Two Koreas have always been members of the UN.

68. Official racial classifications in South Africa have always been outlawed.

69. The NBC Today Show has always been seen on weekends.

70. Vice presidents of the United States have always had real power.

71. Conflict in Northern Ireland has always been slowly winding down.

72. Migration of once independent media like radio, TV, videos and compact discs to the computer has never amazed them.

73. Nobody has ever responded to "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up."

74. Congress could never give itself a mid-term raise.

75. There has always been blue Jell-O.