The Mindset Lists

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Tom McBride, professor of English and Keefer Professor of the Humanities at Beloit College, and Ron Nief, emeritus director of public affairs at Beloit College, discuss their new book The Mindset Lists of American History, which chronicles what has always and never been true for different generations and how that affects their worldview. 

Listeners: What has always and never been true for you? Has Michelangelo always been a turtle? Has there always been the Grateful Dead? Has there always been AIDS? Have you never needed to worry about being drafted? Tell us what year you turned 18 and what has always or never been true for you--and how you think that shapes how you see the world. Comment here!


Tom McBride and Ron Nief

Comments [20]

In Chester, NJ

Growing up in Linden, NJ (born in 1956) we watched the beginning of air conditioning and color television. I often say that the decline and fall of civilization was the introduction of the air conditioner. People would sit outside until dark during the summer and talk - allowing for strong neighborhood bonds to form.

Aug. 10 2011 10:03 PM
MaryT from Westchester County

I was born in 1973. In 1972 there was federal legislation passed called Title IX. It prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational programs, (including sports). So it encourages girls' participation in sports and funding of girls' teams. I personally believe that the ladies of my generation in general are more fit , athletic and healthy than any previous generation. Also look at the US women's soccer, basketball, tennis and volleyball. They've come a long way since 1972.

Aug. 10 2011 02:29 AM


I was enjoying the "Reeling in the Years" segment on WNYC, and happily connecting all of the time references to ME, and then...

You called in and shared your story.

Broke my heart that you had to wait so long to get your rights. and then i was proud again to be an American! (Sorry, it is always about ME :)

Kidding aside, with all of the stuff going wrong in the world, your win, OUR win, made the day!

All the best to you and yours. :)

From a middle aged male hetero WASP

Aug. 10 2011 01:58 AM

Vivent les Rabbit's Ears! And Congratulations.

Aug. 09 2011 01:12 PM

Integration, Oil Shocks and Whip Inflation Now buttons

My sisters were born in '46 and '47 and I came along a decade later. We were all boomers but they have personal recollection of the Brown v. Bd of Ed decision and Ike's call out of the NatGuard to enforce integration in Little Rock.
My father's side of the family is from below the Mason-Dixon line and they also have a personal recollection of segregated seating in the movie theaters...Whites downstairs, blacks in the balcony. They were also expected to attend the historically black colleges - Lincoln U and Cheyney St -- that my parents had attended.

Integration was for me, a given, it didn't effect who it was appropriate for me to date - 'tho dating a white girl was still a shock to some to be sure I never experienced any overt racism over it), where I could go to school or whom I would marry. Being a late-boomer (aka joneser), I did have to watch the decline in value of American labor and a growing lopsidedness in incomes that the economy generates.

Aug. 09 2011 12:57 PM
Mike in Manhattan from Manhattan

Thank YOU, Alex. And, btw, with digital TV broadcasting we once again use rabbit ears. No cable needed!

Aug. 09 2011 12:52 PM

Mike, thank you for your call and your post. I found what you shared very moving. When people call WNYC to share something so important that it surprises even them in the telling, listeners receive so much. I certainly don't feel I have to belong to any particular "mindset" cohort to be transformed by your call. Thank you.

Aug. 09 2011 12:31 PM
Mike in Manhattan from Manhattan

This is Mike, who got married two weeks ago. Jeff, for the record, I was laughing at my own emotional state. We have younger friends, gay & straight, who can't quite grasp what big deal this really is.

Aug. 09 2011 12:20 PM

About the complaint regarding "whining" (which is onomatopoeic in the sense that it whines vociferously about the other complaint!): it is not very sentient or aware to undertake to judge other posters, entirely without warrant, as "whining" when they are simply presenting valid criticisms of a given segment. Something about the poster's comment pushed your buttons, clearly, for reasons that are entirely individual, but posting about that isn't going to lead to increased awareness on anyone's part.

Aug. 09 2011 12:19 PM
Janny from jersey city

I was born in 1961 and I entered college in the Fall of 1980 (postponed a year to earn tuition). Looking back I feel that my generation of women were really the first to be assured that we 'could have it all'....a career (beyond being a teacher or a nurse) and a family. Now facing the milestone of 50, I can see that I did, sort of, have it all, but there were times when I felt neither endeavor was getting 100%. The sacrifices I made were clearly in favor of raising my daughter, and whatever 'career' losses i suffered do not mean a thing to me, as I see a happy well adjusted teenager beside me...(mostly :)

Aug. 09 2011 12:12 PM

The "Kennedy Tragedy" was Bay of Pigs.

Aug. 09 2011 12:05 PM
Jeff from East Village

The response of one of the guests to the caller who spoke about his recent gay marriage was ... a laugh. And then no mention of it.

Aug. 09 2011 12:04 PM
gary from queens

I was born in 1952. I recall stores were closed on Sundays, by law.

You mentioned water fluoridation. Mayor Wagner introduced that in 1965. I testified at Chairman Crispino's (D-Bx) health committee in the City Council in the mid 80s. But more importantly, scientists from around the nation came to testify. We thought we had won, but the corrupt chairman buried the transcripts of the testimonials and did nothing about the poison in our water.

I also remember going to lunch when i was in PS 103 in the Bronx. I walked from Carpenter Ave to White Plains Road to this pizzaria that sold slices for 10 cents each. large and tasty. Other places sold it for 15 cents!

But then in 1976 I became a veggan. No dairy. I walked into a pizzeria a year ago to get garlic bread. my jaw dropped when i saw the price if a slice!

Aug. 09 2011 12:03 PM
Ellen from Brooklyn

Wow, re the comment below, the whining of WNYC listeners is really something. Give them a break! Unless you plan to contribute a vast amount of money so that they can hire full-time staff to devote themselves to the website.

I graduated college in 2002, the first year of the mindset lists, and really don't relate to this list. It assumes a complete lack of sentience throughout the first decade of my life. I think kids are much more aware than this list suggests. For example, I completely remember when the Challenger blew up, I knew Reagan was shot, had a polio shot, I had and listened to vinyl, understand the "broken record" expression, owned a record player, played pac-man, blue M&Ms are still new and I remember the beige ones (which I would describe as more tan), remember when we first got an answering machine, didn't have cable until my teens, had a black and white TV, have roller-skated but never roller-bladed, made popcorn using an air popper (although not a pan), know about the Iran hostage crisis, remember Mork (from Ork) & Mindy, watched "Dallas," remember pre-transformation Michael Jackson and remember styrofoam McD containers.

Aug. 09 2011 12:02 PM
Dean from Northern NJ

18 in late 1965. Thanks to Government's behavior in and about Vietnam, I have always seen Government as an entity separate and distinct from the people, behaving in a manner that maximizes its own best interests.

Governments' behavior since then has only reinforced this belief.

Aug. 09 2011 12:02 PM
Alex from NYC

Do the authors treat women's rights and other women's issues as a significant component of mindset, or do they treat that as less important because of how their own mindsets are shaped by age, gender, and cultural background?

Aug. 09 2011 12:02 PM
Stephen from Brooklyn

I was born in 81 and remember using the card catalog at the library. Now a librarian and havung used the internet since I was 12, kids don't know dial up and call numbers.

Aug. 09 2011 11:59 AM
Lee from Bushwick, Brooklyn


It is not about me but up until a few years ago there were many folks in their twenties or even early thirties had never experienced an economic downturn.

Aug. 09 2011 11:59 AM
Class of 1983 from Brooklyn

One of part of the life of people from the class on 1983 in California: We grew up with a big drought, which turned me into an environmentalist at a young age.

...not to mention the anti-nuke movement was big, and in Middle School, people in San Francisco wanted to make it illegal for gays to teach in public schools.

Aug. 09 2011 11:57 AM
David from Montclair, NJ

This preview is not helpful and this is a recurring problem for this show.

I Have more clues about what this segment is about from the words at bottom, "Read More: american history culture."

This problem requires some management attention, producers!

Aug. 09 2011 11:29 AM

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