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August 18, 2013

Vasicek: Bad poetry and fascinating history

Today is “Bad Poetry Day,” a day to read or write inferior poems. One of my favorites follows: “There was a man who loved the bees; he thought they were his friend. He loved to sit upon their hives, but they stung him in the end!”

Limericks are fun, too. Here is a newer one: “There once was a lady named Perkins/ Who simply doted on Gherkins/They were so nice/ She ate too much spice/ and pickled her internal workin’s” [source: home.earthlink.net/~kristenaa/nice/].

Aug. 18 is a dud date when it comes to both holidays and observances, and neither is it bursting with historical significance. Nonetheless, there are a few important events that may hoist it from the slough of historical insignificance. The first two are inter-related and center around the ill-fated Roanoke colony.

Evidence strongly suggests America’s first settlers migrated from Mongolia. When the Europeans arrived, these Mongolian-Americans became known as “Indians.” Why? Wisegeek.org enlightens us:

“The term Indians as applied to Native Americans, or the indigenous peoples of the Americas, is thought to have originated in a misconception on the part of the Europeans who arrived in Central America in 1492. Since Christopher Columbus began his journey to America with the intent of finding an alternate route to Southeast Asia, he is said to have assumed that the people he came into contact with upon reaching land were Indians. Despite the fact that people probably realized this mistake within hours, the name remained in use. Similarly, the islands in Central America came to be called the ‘West Indies’, as opposed to the ‘East Indies’ that Columbus originally had in mind as his destination.”

Although the Native American culture has left a strong imprint upon modern American culture, the U.S. is predominantly (culturally) European. The greatest influence upon American culture is undoubtedly the British culture (with the German culture an important secondary influence). So where I am heading with this?

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