Guests: Dara Ó Briain, Al Murray, Sandi Toksvig
Aired: 11th November 2011, BBC Two
The people in Mexico before the Europeans arrived didn't call themselves Aztecs. The people and culture we think of as 'Aztec' referred to themselves as the Mexica (pronounced 'Mé-shee-ka'). To the Mexica, the word 'Aztec' referred only to people who lived in the Aztlan, an island in the middle of a lake, which was their mythological origin. Aztlan was later associated with their capital of Tenochtitlan, where modern-day Mexico City is located. The name 'Mexica' has uncertain origins; it may have been an alternative name for the war god Huitzilopochtli or it could have meant 'moon'. The Mexica lived along a system of rivers that looked a bit like a rabbit. They also saw a rabbit in the moon where we see a man in the moon.
The Mexica were a Nahua people. The Nahua also include the Toltecs and there is a modern-day population of around 2.5 million Nahua, most of whom speak the Nahuatl language. English words of Nahuatl origin include 'avocado', 'chili', 'chocolate', 'coyote', 'axolotl', 'tequila' and 'tomato'. In 2008, compulsory Nahuatl
was added to the curriculum of schools in Mexico City, in an attempt to recapture the city’s indigenous roots.
The Great Seal of the United States – the official symbol which features a double-headed eagle, and a huge eye above a pyramid – is not a Masonic emblem. Neither does it contain hidden Masonic symbols. Benjamin Franklin was the only Mason on the first design committee, and his suggestions had no Masonic content; none of the final designers of the seal were Masons; the eye on the seal is subtly different from the one used by Masons and, most of all, common Masonic use of the Eye dates to 14 years after the creation of the USA's Great Seal.
The official interpretation is that the pyramid represents strength and durability and the eye in the triangle is the all-seeing eye of Providence: representing God watching over the country and approving its undertakings. (Though, actually, it seems to be, in part at least, because everybody liked the idea of mystical Egyptian symbolism.)
The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.
The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.