aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, October 09, 2006
As best I can put it together, an Aptronym refers to a name that reflects, expresses or comments on its owner’s occupation. Timothy Noah put together a fun sampling last December. Here, his dentist collection:
Ngoc Quang Chu, DDS (Bethesda, Md.)
Dalbert Fear, Jr., DDS (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Ken Hurt, DDS (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Kenneth Krowne, DDS (Brookline, Mass.)
Les Plack, DDS (San Francisco, Calif.)
Anthony J. Puller, DDS (Richmond, Va.)
Randall Toothaker, DDS (University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Barth, Lacy, and Craig Toothman (Columbus, Ohio)
In March of ‘05 the Times did a piece too:
Once you start collecting them, you can’t stop.
Think of baseball’s Cecil Fielder and Rollie Fingers, the news executive Bill Headline, the artist Rembrandt Peale, the poet William Wordsworth, the pathologist (not gynecologist) Zoltan Ovary, the novelist Francine Prose, the poker champion Chris Moneymaker, the musicians Paul Horn and Mickey Bass, the TV weatherman Storm Field, Judge Wisdom, the spokesman Larry Speakes, the dancer Benjamin Millepied, the opera singer Peter Schreier, the British neurologist Lord Brain, the entertainer Tommy Tune, the CBS Television ratings maven David Poltrack.
Think, too, of all those fictional characters and the real-life doctors and dentists named Payne, Blank the anesthesiologist, Kramp the swim coach, Blechman the gastroenterologist, Faircloth the fashion designer, Goodness the church spokesman, Slaughter the murderer and the funeral director named Amigone.
‘’I once had a doctor named Gore,’’ recalls Anne Bernays who, with her husband, Justin Kaplan, wrote ‘’The Language of Names.’’
Originally, professions were one way of establishing surnames (the most common American surname is Smith, of whom there are more than a million, far more than the number of blacksmiths). Other aptronyms are nicknames and surnames that were legally changed retroactively. Then there are the names of people who succeeded in their professions despite what might be called their an-aptronyms: Dr. Kwak, Judge Lawless or Orson Swindle, a member of the Federal Trade Commission. Long before Armand Hammer bought Arm & Hammer, the baking soda company, many people assumed he owned it.
Am I the only one to notice that the lawyer who has generously taken up the case of Genarlow Wilson - in a Georgia prison for receiving oral sex at 17 from a 15 year old - is named B.J. Bernstein?
Thursday, September 28, 2006
What’s in a (middle) name (Wayne)?
Ms. Stewart has an unusual hobby: clipping newspaper articles of a particular ilk. She sent me xeroxs of her most recent finds. All of these clippings were from The Dallas News, from February 2006 to the present. The articles had two things in common: (1) all of them were stories reporting on crimes, and (2) the perpetrator’s middle name was “Wayne.”
I have to say I was stunned by the number of examples she sent me:
Eric Wayne Kelley—sex charges
Nathan Wayne Green—kidnapping and beating, homicide
Ronald Wayne Spencer, Jr.—triple homicide
David Wayne Rhodes—10 years for practicing nursing without a license
Larry Wayne King—homicide
Paul Wayne Mitchell—Theft
Michael Wayne Hills—theft
Jeremy Wayne Hopkins—homicide
Garry Wayne Carriker—knowingly having unprotected sex when HIV positive
Bruce Wayne Potts—homicide
Joshua Wayne Jones—assault of officer
Billy Wayne Sinclair—homicide
Billy Wayne Boyer—assault
Billy Wayne Miller—attempted murder and robbery
Kenneth Wayne Downs —sex assault
Jerry Wayne Lucas—attempted homicide
Tony Wayne Swinnie—aggravated assault of grandmother in front of her grandchildren, robbery
Larry Wayne Dacy—home invasion
Richard Wayne Miles—police standoff
Charles Wayne Thomas—homicide
Maybe you could assemble a list this impressive for some other middle name, but I doubt it. Of course, these folks are following the path set for them by the notorious Chicago serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
The dumbest non-believable use of an iPod
Harrison Ford plays a security expert at a bank. He falls prey to a scheme to steal money for a gang that has taken hostage of his family. The film tried very hard to keep it a rollercoaster ride of thrills. From the beginning, you have Harrison Ford typing furiously to stop a hacker by writing new firewall rules. At least this time, these rules didn’t float around in a rainbow of colors ala Hackers.
What really puts Firewall at the top of the list, is the dumbest and non-believable use of an iPod to date. This is 2006, not 1995, you can’t just make stuff up like this anymore. In the middle of the film, Harrison Ford happens to not only be a security expert, but an Apple hardware developer too. He takes his daughters iPod and hooks up a scanner to it. This contraption is supposed to get taped onto a computer monitor in the server room and take ‘images’ of bank account records. The scene is sealed with the awesome line: “10000 songs, 10000 accounts, it won’t know the difference.”. Amazingly, iPods have the ability to interface with a scanner and be recognized by the bank’s computer instantly. Steve Jobs, please hire Harrison Ford.
I was sorry to see 1983’s WarGames at #10, “it is laughable in this day and age.” Well, I loved it then. And its use of the tech-savvy no-space-capitalization still holds up today.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
A 3.3 million year old girl
Don Johanson was back in town tonight. He spoke of Lucy to a standing room only crowd and of the news of the fossils found of the oldest known child hominid in Ethiopia ‘in mint condition’:
The discovery delighted Donald C. Johanson, the paleoanthropologist who stunned the world when he found the 3.2 million-year-old Lucy fossil at Hadar, Ethiopia, a few miles from the Dikika site. “I don’t think there’s any question that (the child is) the same species as Lucy,” because its features “are identical to what we see in all of the Hadar hominids,” Johanson said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Scientists have previously found fragments of a few other Australopithecus afarensis children, “but nothing as significant as this,” Johanson said. The new find is “much more complete,” with a skull containing “a virtually complete set of teeth,” plus “parts of legs and arms and thorax, and two very thin shoulder blades.”
Don’s a terrific guy. I fondly recall the time we had on a house tour here in the spring of last year. He did too and I was glad of it. We didn’t make it out to Phoenix last December but maybe one day still. John?
I’m just too white and nerdy
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Wear a helmet, get hit by a bus!
Here’s one for the Freakonomics crowd:
CYCLISTS who wear helmets are more likely to be knocked off their bicycles than those who do not, according to research.
Motorists give helmeted cyclists less leeway than bare-headed riders because they assume that they are more proficient. They give a wider berth to those they think do not look like “proper” cyclists, including women, than to kitted-out “lycra-clad warriorsÃ¢â‚¬Â�.
Ian Walker, a traffic psychologist, was hit by a bus and a truck while recording 2,500 overtaking manoeuvres. On both occasions he was wearing a helmet.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
The salt sucker
Today is my birthday. Yesterday was Star Trek’s:
Cue the iconic theme music: Forty years ago, on September 8, 1966, “Star Trek” lifted off into TV and cultural history. Over the subsequent decades, the sci-fi adventure series has amassed millions of fans and emerged as a relentless entertainment empire.
Stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy sat down recently with the Associated Press and recalled “The Man Trap,” the episode that would kick off the show’s three-year prime-time run.
“The first show that was on the air was a show with a creature that was a salt sucker,” recalled Nimoy. “It was somebody inside a weird-looking suit and it attacked humans because it needed the copper or the salt out of your body to survive or something like that.”
“That was the first one?” asked Shatner.
“Yes, that was the first one on the air,” Nimoy answered. “And it was because NBC decided that this series would be most successful if we had sort of a monster of the week to sell. What’s the monster this week? And so they put a monster show on the air the first episode, and I think it was a terrible mistake, because it was really not what we were about.”
I watched it religiously, alone in my mother’s bedroom. No one else in the house was interested. Their loss.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Speaks to the times we’re living in I’d say:
[A]s mayor, he wants to take a National Historic Landmark, the old federal courthouse where he tried his first case, and turn it into a mob museum - and there’s no alleged about it.
Many of Goodman’s constituents and some former FBI agents are appalled by the idea, but Goodman insists he’s just recognizing Vegas’ founding fathers. Or godfathers.
“The mob founded us, and I never apologized for them because I represented them, and they made me a rich man,” he said.
Unfortunately, you will not see photos of his visit to the Neon Museum. He asked. They answered:
Although many people have taken it upon themselves to post photos of the Boneyard on Flickr and other photo-sharing websites, we ask that no one do so. We are an educational facility first and foremost - and therefore do not allow stock photography. Photos that are uploaded to sites such as Flickr are not copy protected, and therefore are able to be lifted and used by unscrupulous people. As a result, we are trying to limit the number of images from our collection that are hosted on the web.
Hawk is right, “This is wrong and backward thinking.” Cory Doctorow agrees, “For curators to block the dissemination of their collection is antithetical to curatorship.”
Thursday, August 31, 2006
The sign for a local business. Do you see what I see?
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Fake snakes for a worthy cause
The silicone snakes featured in SAMUEL L JACKSON’s new movie SNAKES ON A PLANE will be auctioned off to benefit an animal rights organisation. American Humane monitors animal safety on film sets and is known for its “no animals were harmed” disclaimer that appears in many movie credits. The snakes will be auctioned off at auction.newline.com and bids can be placed for the next two weeks, ending 12 September (06).
The current bid is $199.
As it happens there’s another animal welfare group I support that I would urge you to support too. HEART (Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers) works “to inspire and empower educators to implement Humane Education into school curricula and programs.”
Their website, teachhumane.org, is a rich source of good information.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Yesterday I came across a truly gorgeous book of photographs by Candida HÃƒÂ¶fer titled, Libraries, a title which pretty much says it all, because that is just exactly what it is, one rich, sumptuous, photo of a library interior after another. It’s like porn for book nerds. Seriously. They are gorgeous photos, nearly all without visitors and just begging to be entered. (ha. sorry.)
He’s got 13 more. And don’t forget to check out the supplementary materials.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Thursday, August 17, 2006
It’s well-known that many societies hold lefties in low esteem. In Christian tradition, the devil is generally associated with the left hand; the word sinister comes from the Latin for left, sinistra. Arabs have historically used the right hand for eating and the left for, er, activities at the other end of the alimentary process. More scientifically, left-handedness is related to a number of physiological conditions. Lefties have higher rates of high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, and schizophrenia.
On the other hand, if you’ll forgive the inevitable bad pun, left-handedness is also linked with creativity. Leonardo da Vinci was a lefty, as were Michelangelo, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein. Psychologists confirm that left-handedness involves different brain function: While right-handed people seem to have better cognitive skills on average, studies find that lefties are more common among the highly talented.
Ok. But do they roll in the dough?
Thanks to two new studies, one from the United States and another from the United Kingdom, we have some answers… In the U.S. study, college graduates overall earned an average of 30 percent more than high-school graduates. And after accounting for other determinants of pay-age, intelligence, marital status, and race and ethnicity-lefties with college education earned 10 to 15 percent more than their right-handed counterparts.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Tie one on
[T]here’s no right or wrong when it comes to shoelace etiquette (so far as we know), but be aware that your knot of choice is only one of 31 ways to complete the task, at least according to Ian’s Shoelace Site. It just goes to show that every walk of life has its own technology.
Only the females of these insect species sting, and sexor rather reproductionis the reason they first learned how. It started back in the Jurassic Period, in an unknown species of parasitic wasp. Such wasps commonly use their ovipositor, a pointy extension of the abdomen, to lay their eggs on living caterpillars, beetle grubs, and other hapless victims, usually at a rate of one egg per victim. Some species actually have a serrated edge on the ovipositor to saw through flesh and deposit the egg inside the body. The wasp egg hatches, and the larval wasp then feeds on its living host until it sucks it dry, or in the case of a larva inside the victim, until it is big enough to burst forth, Alien-fashion, and fly away.
The intended host understandably does not like big Mama Wasp buzzing around, and it typically throws up a frenzied resistance. But at some point in the primordial struggle, the saw-blade lubricants or other fluids in the ovipositor of some wasp species became paralyzing to victims. This made life infinitely easier for the wasp, and from this eureka moment, venoms evolved to suit an immense variety of circumstances, and ovipositors adapted to function as stingers. Bees and ants eventually evolved from Mama Wasp, and at least 60,000 different species in the order Hymenoptera now possess some form of stinger. Impression fossils of a wasp from Russia show that this evolutionary flowering was already well under way more than 120 million years ago.
Even now, the vast majority of stinging insects use their venom primarily to parasitize tomato hornworms, cabbage loopers, and the like. Insect stinging is thus more a blessing on humanity than a curse: If female parasitic wasps were not out there busily killing agricultural pests, we would starve.
But this is all too easy to forget in a moment of pain. For us, stinging mostly means nasty encounters with bees and other social insects that have retained no trace of the parasitic lifestyle. They now sting purely to defend the hive, and they are dismayingly good at what they do.
Vai Dean Esmay.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Hope for Barbaro
Barbaro’s fractured right hind leg is healing well, and veterinarians say they are encouraged by the progress the colt is showing in regrowing the hoof wall on his left hind leg.
Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby winner who took a catastrophic misstep that shattered his right hind leg in the Preakness Stakes on May 20, was said to be resting comfortably yesterday in the intensive care unit of the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals in Kennett Square, Pa. On Tuesday, his cast was changed.
He’s one of the lucky one. Here’s Slate’s Explainer on why a broken leg is bad news for a horse:
There’s a high risk of infection, and the horse may not sit still long enough for the bone to heal. Infections are most likely when the animal suffers a compound fracture, in which the bones tear through the skin of the leg. In this case, dirt from the track will grind into and contaminate the wound. To make matters worse, there isn’t much blood circulation in the lower part of a horse’s leg. (There’s very little muscle, either.) A nasty break below the knee could easily destroy these fragile vessels and deprive the animal of its full immune response at the site of the injury. [...]
It’s not easy to treat a horse with antibiotics, either. Since the animals are so big, you have to pump in lots of drugs to get the necessary effect. But if you use too many antibiotics, you’ll destroy the natural flora of its intestinal tract, which can lead to life-threatening, infectious diarrhea. You also have to worry about how the antibiotics will interact with large doses of painkillers, which can themselves cause ulcers.
I hate to admit that I found this video via GMA’s new ode-to-YouTube segment (which I tend to see as a cynical cash-in on YouTube success rather than anything the slightest bit innovative or creative). Great fun!
Friday, August 04, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
A hookah’s not a bong
Somehow I had missed that they were a trend.
But it does give me reason to recall that I only learned a month or so ago how hookahs work. From an article in Slate on medicinal marijuana:
Marijuana need not be burned to release its medicinal components. When the plant is heated to a degree short of combustion, its active ingredients become vapor and are released without the accompanying smoke.
That’s the secret of the hookah - vaprization! No nasty tar and nicotine. So does that mean when you use a hookah you are not really “smoking?”
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Fish n’ Flush
You love your pet fish, but constantly neglect them, leaving them to feast on each other’s soft cadavers like a Uruguayan rugby team. Instead, integrate them into a mandatory part of your life with Fish n’ Flush: a fully-functioning aquarium/toilet tank.
Developed by California-based Aqua One Technologies, the FnF is a filtered acrylic aquarium wrapped around an integrated flush-tank core. The aquarium exists independently of the toilet’s reservoir, so you won’t annihilate your buddies after every urination. But, to keep things interesting, the flush valve does launch a jet stream into the tank that swirls the fish for a few seconds of exhilirating tidal joy. Wee.
Warning: make sure you have a two-piece toilet and are familiar with basic plumbing, or risk a poo geyser in your bathroom. Once installed, your only additional purchases are freshwater fish and one of those stupid bubbling treasure chests. Then you can unzip, enjoy, and never forget to feed your fish again.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Stephen J. Dubner reads the Times today
And I like what he’s reading:
There are two interesting pieces on the New York Times OpEd page today: one calling for elderly drivers to have to renew their licenses, the other arguing that if your Social Security number is hijacked by an identity thief, the best solution would be to simply get a new SSN—a solution that, as of now, is pretty much impossible.
Friday, June 16, 2006
A sidebar in the NetBob story:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Launched in Minnesota in 1936 with the advertising slogan ‘Tastes fine, saves time’
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ More than five billion cans have been made worldwide
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Hormel halted UK production of Spam, moving the operation to Denmark, in 1997
Click here to join the SPAM FAN CLUB.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
200 liters of Diet Coke & 500 Mentos
A mint-powered version of the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas, brought to you by the mad scientists at EepyBird.com.