Friday, June 22, 2007

Jumping to conclusions

It seems I may be guilty of the very thing I continuously rail against: jumping to conclusions. Although I do not do this often enough to warrant the use of a jumping to conclusions map (see Office Space), I am a frequent enough offender. The most recent offence relates to a previous post of mine in which I state that the name America originates from Amerigo Vespucci, a cartographer that tailed along with Columbus. Although the origin of a name such as America likely has a great deal of uncertainty attached to it, I stated it as though it were fact. Thanks to the wonderful book I received for Father’s Day, The Book of Origins by Trevor Homer, I realized that this “fact” was actually far from it. A quick note on this book. For any man who spends inordinate amounts of time on the toilet, even when you are not actually producing anything worthy of a toilet, this book is a must-buy. It is all about the origins of everything you can imagine from ancient empires to languages to communications to art forms etc.
In the chapter on origins of nations it talks about the genesis of America, including the controversy surrounding its name. Apparently there is a good deal of evidence supporting America being named after Richard Amerike, a frequent sponsor of exploratory voyages at the time. It is thought that he sponsored voyages on the condition that whatever was discovered was to be named after him (talk about a narcissist). His most famous sponsored voyage was that of Giovanni Caboto (AKA John Cabot). Upon discovering Newfoundland, he then hopped the short distance to America and claimed the land in the name of his sponsor.
The most interesting thing about this whole theory is the resemblance of Amerike’s family coat of arms to that of the current American flag. Apparently the coat of arms consists of a series of stars and stripes. Interesting.

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