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.