When Did THAT Change?
I try to keep up with things. I really do. And I understand that things are going to be kind of fluid as this one and that one stumbles upon the next Good Idea. But there seem to be a lot of changes made just to make changes.
And an awful lot of things seem like they’re moving right past me now and I find myself asking When did that change? And how did it happen and I didn’t hear anything about it?
Have you noticed this happening to you, too?
Let’s Start With the Cities
When I was a kid, we had to learn a few of the big-deal cities in the world. You know, so that when a big diplomatic thing went down, we would know where it was all happening. So, yeah. London. Check. Paris. Check. We moved through an awful lot of Europe, went kind of light on Africa to be honest, hit a few places in Asia and moved on to the next chapter. Maybe I am remembering it wrong, but I remember doing rather well in these exercises.
I’m pretty sure that when Nixon went to China in 1972, he went to Peking. It was in all of the papers. And at some point in the last forty years, Peking became Beijing. I didn’t get the memo. Now, every time the city is referenced, it’s Beijing. So, somehow everyone must have agreed. The only place it hasn’t changed is on restaurant menus. I haven’t seen any reference to Beijing Duck, that I can remember.
The same thing happened with Bombay. If you were going to be doing anything in India, you would want to go there. And then one day it seemed like everyone had decided we would call it Mumbai, and it’s been that way ever since. I don’t remember any kind of a party or referendum or protest or UN proposal that led to this. Just one day it was different.
Other Locations We All Knew
There are other famous locations, too. When I was a kid, the president was shot dead in Dallas, Texas. They started naming things after him left, right and center. Since the space program was kick-started by him sending us to the Moon, they renamed the launch site the rockets took off from, from Cape Canaveral to Cape Kennedy. That was a nice honor, I thought. He had been there only a week before he died, and the space program was something we all seemed to be getting behind, to try to get ourselves ahead of the Soviets. But several years later, the TV news guys were once again referring to it as Cape Canaveral. I always thought that was kind of shiddy.
Washington DC has a really neat old airport right on the Metro line just south of everything that’s going on. There’s no way it would be allowed to be built where it is, today, what with security concerns and so on, but it’s there now and despite several attempts and remodeling it you can still see the 1930s and 1940s feel to it. You can still imagine where the banks and banks of pay telephones used to be, and so on. It was always the nation’s airport in Washington, the city. And so it was named for our first president, Washington National Airport. And then someone decided it would be a great idea to name it after the guy who fired all of the air traffic controllers and plunged us all into debt. So now we’re supposed to call it Reagan Washington National Airport. Unh-uh. It’s already named after a great guy, thanks. I’ll stick with what I know.
Even Animals aren’t Safe
Like most little kids, I thought dinosaurs were cool. I had a little ceramic model of a Brontosaurus, the giant Thunder Lizard. But somewhere along the line the mysterious they decided to change its name to Apatosaurus. As near as I can tell, nothing else about the beast is different. They didn’t change its eating habits, its educational background, its proclivity to singing show tunes when traveling… nothing else but the name.
A Rose By Any Other Name… Yeah, maybe. But It’s nice when you sound like you know what you’re talking about.