Between the Lines

Between the Lines By David Lias I admit it.

During my high school years, I joined my fellow classmates and often uttered the lament, "What do we have to learn this stuff for?"

We reasoned that many of the things that we were being forced to learn in the early 1970s had no practical application in the real world.

When would we ever use algebra (other than in another classroom setting, perhaps in college)?

History, at the time, also seemed like a royal waste of time � often it seems all we did was memorize dates and events from our nation's and the world's past.

Decades later, I find myself hooked on the History Channel. And although I haven't yet gotten my hands on a copy of Tom Brokaw's book, The Greatest Generation, I can understand why everyone is clamoring to read it.

Brokaw has done more than gather a compilation of great stories of the World War II generation. He has reminded us all of why it's important to keep up-to-date with the past.

My mother sent me an e-mail today that points out just how much we are all affected by major historical happenings.

Her message noted that yes, it's possible to be somewhat knowledgeable about history. There's just one catch.

You have to be alive at the time that major trends and events happen to truly appreciate them.

Otherwise, you'd better hit the history books and try to soak up as much knowledge about the past as you can.

Consider, for example, the freshman class at The University of South Dakota and at other colleges and universities across the nation.

They aren't unlike the freshmen at Beloit College in Wisconsin. Each year, the staff at that institution puts together a list to try to give the faculty a sense of the mind set of young people just entering college.

Here's this year's list:

1. The people who started college this fall across the nation were born in 1980.

2. They have no meaningful recollection of the Reagan Era and did not know he had ever been shot.

3. They were prepubescent when the Persian Gulf War was waged.

4. Black Monday 1987 is as significant to them as the Great Depression.

5. There has only been one pope. They can only really remember one president.

6. They were 11 when the Soviet Union broke apart and do not remember the Cold War.

7. They have never feared a nuclear war. The Day After is a pill to them, not a movie.

8. They are too young to remember the space shuttle blowing up, and Tiananmen Square means nothing to them.

9. Their lifetime has always included AIDS.

10. They never had a Polio shot, and likely do not know what it is.

11. Bottle caps have not only always been screw off, but have always been plastic. They have no idea what a pull-top can looks like.

12. Atari pre-dates them, as do vinyl albums.

13. The expression "you sound like a broken record" means nothing to them.

14. They have never owned a record player.

15. They have likely never played Pac Man and have never heard of Pong.

16. Star Wars looks very fake to them, and the special effects are pathetic.

17. There have always been red M&Ms, and blue ones are not new. What do you mean there used to be beige ones?

18. They may have heard of an 8-track, but chances are they probably never have actually seen or heard one.

19. The Compact Disc was introduced when they were 1 year old.

20. As far as they know, stamps have always cost about 32 cents.

21. They have always had an answering machine.

22. Most have never seen a TV set with only 13 channels, nor have they seen a black-and-white TV.

23. They have always had cable.

24. There have always been VCRs, but they have no idea what BETA is.

25. They cannot fathom not having a remote control.

26. They were born the year that Walkmen were introduced by Sony.

27. Roller-skating has always meant inline for them.

28. The Tonight Show has always been with Jay Leno.

29. They have no idea when or why Jordache jeans were cool.

30. Popcorn has always been cooked in a microwave.

31. They have never seen Larry Bird play, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a football player.

32. They never took a swim and thought about Jaws.

33. The Vietnam War is as ancient history to them as WWI, WWII, or even the Civil War.

34. They have no idea that Americans were ever held hostage in Iran.

35. They can't imagine what hard contact lenses are.

36. They don't know who Mork was or where he was from.

37. They never heard the terms: "Where's the beef?," "I'd walk a mile for a Camel," or "de plane, de plane!"

38. They do not care who shot J.R. and have no idea who J.R. is.

39. The Titanic was found? I thought we always knew where it was.

40. Michael Jackson has always been white.

41. Kansas, Chicago, Boston, America and Alabama are places, not groups.

42. McDonald's never came in styrofoam containers.

43. There has always been MTV.

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