Monday, February 01, 2010

People just liked it better that way

I like to quiz my kids about historical trivia in the van on the way to school.
(This is to keep them super nerdy so they won't get too popular in high school, which could cause all kinds of worries and headaches for me.)

The kids? They just want to listen to They Might Be Giants
Flood. At top volume.

I have effected a compromise.

You know, kids, I queried this morning, even old New York was once New Amsterdam. Why'd they change it?

People just liked it better that way! They respond in unison.

See now, this is where my history degree comes in real handy. (And people said it was good for nothing.)

No, kids. People did NOT just like it better that way. Holland traded Manhattan to England in exchange for a little spice island called Run (near Indonesia), because the Dutch East India Company wanted to keep up their super lucrative nutmeg monopoly. At the time, it seemed like England was getting the raw deal. You can read all about it in Nathaniel's Nutmeg, a spicy little book by Giles Milton.

The kids are not very thrilled with this news. Cousin Jack mumbles something about nutmeg and York with his best British Colonial accent, but Sam just begs for track 7 (
Particle Man).

So I didn't get to ask them the follow-up question:

What did the Native Americans call the island?

Cause then, I could have told them:
Manahachtanienk, meaning "Place where we all got drunk." (Nobody much lived on the island, but when some nearby Indians came over for some hunting and fishing, the early Dutch settlers shared their booze, and the poor tee totalling natives didn't know what hit 'em. Seems like maybe an early version of fraternity hazing.)

Anyhow, tomorrow we discuss how one might "filibuster vigilantly" (From track 1,
Birdhouse in Your Soul). Then I can tell them how Senator Strom Thurmond conducted the longest ever solo filibuster, a non-stop 24 hours and 18 minutes, against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

Which, I think, will segue nicely into a discussion of track 6:

Your Racist Friend.

Happy Monday to you.


La Yen said...

I want to carpool with you.

Kerri said...

Sigh. Flood brings back many many memories. Never thought about translating it into actual information for my kids...

the fowlers said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one with devious plans to keep my kids unpopular!
Of course, I don't want to go so far as to make them pariahs, either. Good thing I don't have to worry about it just yet. I can watch and see how you and other moms create happy little nerds.

wonder woman said...

This is just beautiful.

I'm also scared of my kids getting too popular in HS. I should start ingraining a lot more nerdiness.

mandi said...


when i was in highschool a couple of friends (including my now husband) and i made up a song about our overly hairy youth pastor. it was called 'follicle man'. we then made an entire music video based on the 'particle man' video. out of construction paper.

so, yeah, i'd say your kids are nicely on the path to nerdom. where i rule as queen.

Kari said...

It's finding those little teaching moments and making the most of them. You're nothing if not opportunistic. In a good way.

Azúcar said...

Uh, did you crawl into MY CARPOOL?

Our poor children.

heather said...

Now I feel the need to go study up on random historical facts because I totally see your wisdom in raising nerdy children.

acte gratuit said...

Oh boy...gotta put that C.D. in my car. I've totally overlooked it's value as a history teaching tool.

Claire said...

So - The Best of Chicago's not the best for in-car tuition?

TheOneTrueSue said...

I love TMBG so very much.

Kelly said...

Hi there Beezwax- Glad I found your blog tonight. I commented with you over at light refreshments. I condone you for your history knowledge and your desire for nerdy kids.

Natalie said...

Birdhouse in Your Soul was my theme song in high school. Don't know why, either. It just made me happy. My dad always made fun of me and would mess up the title every time he tried to say it. :) thanks for the memories. sigh...