Even as the United States' international role grows, however, our knowledge of the world we live in lags behind. Since 1994, geographic literacy -- understanding of places and cultures of the world -- declined among American twelfth-graders.
This morning's edition reminded me of the great Steely Dan tune "Hey Nineteen": "Hey Nineteen, that's 'Retha Franklin/She don't remember the queen of soul ...." Every cultural reference I made fell on uncomprehending ears.
Critics are cultural historians of a sort, trying to tie the present to the past. Audiences, however, apparently don't give a rip. Or, at least, the audience that seem to matter most now, people in their 30s or younger.