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Posts Tagged ‘Aptonyms’

Tom Collins Has Spoken

We recently published a post about what seemed like an aptonym — a researcher named Thomas Collins who’s been studying the chemical footprints of whiskeys. Does he in fact share a name with the cocktail Tom Collins, or does he stick to Thomas? Thankfully, Professor Collins (or someone doing a good impression of him) left a comment on the post:

I do go by Tom. I, too, heard every combination of comments about what my parents might have been drinking, etc. I made a deliberate choice, therefore, to study whiskeys rather than gin …


A Tom Collins By Any Other Name …

Marc Resnick, a professor of human factors and information design at Bentley University, writes to say:

I came across this fantastic aptonym today and as a major Freakonomics fan I had to share it with you: A research team at U.C.-Davis just published a study on the chemical fingerprints of American whiskeys.  And the lead researcher is Tom Collins

To be fair, the scholar’s name is Thomas Collins (he is director of the university’s Food Safety and Measurement Facility), and we don’t know if he really goes by Tom.* Furthermore, Tom Collins the drink is made with gin, which isn’t a whiskey, the beverage under study here. But still … fantastic. Thanks, Marc.

*Prof. Collins, please drop us a line and let us know if you do.

Anthony Weiner's Sunk Costs?

Anthony Weiner is still running for mayor of New York as I write this, though that status may soon change. Not coincidentally, a reader named Jon Creem (an unfortunate aptonym in this case?) writes in to say:

Yesterday I enjoyed listening to your show about “Quitting.” The segment where you explained “sunk cost” was especially interesting.

I took the explanation as people’s unwillingness to give up due to the amount of investment (time, money, etc) they have already made.

Then, when catching up on the latest Anthony Weiner mayoral saga, I couldn’t help make a connection.

Is this guy refusing to remove himself from the race because he feels he has done too much already to drop out now? In my opinion the odds are stacked against him regardless of how good a politician he is.

I assume continuing to campaign will only cost him more time and money. Is it worth it for him to continue?

Insofar as pride and ego are components of sunk cost, I guess Jon is right. On the other hand, it doesn’t strike me that Weiner’s continuing to run is really about sunk cost. Modern politics is so often an exercise in ego, hubris, and narcissism — and if I were to armchair-analyze Weiner, I’d suggest that these factors are much more important than the sunk costs of time and money.

An Aptly Named Men's Room

In a few weeks we’ll be putting out a Freakonomics Radio episode about baby names. To hold you over until then, here’s an article about a naming-rights story that is amusing and has the added benefit of appearing to be true: a men’s room named after law professor Bill Falik. Yes, that would appear to be an aptonym.

(HT: Michael Jones)

The Rising Obesity Tide

Obesity continues to plague the U.S., with nine states now reporting that more than 30% of their population is obese.

Today in Aptonyms

A well-named plant scientist recently weighed in on the European Commission’s decision to “to allow genetically modified potato varieties to be grown in some European Union countries.”

Yes, Part II

In a recent post, I extolled the virtues of Robert Cialdini‘s Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive. The book is wonderfully designed in 50 short chapters to describe the results of 50 different randomized field experiments. The format of, say, 1,800 words per chapter is a bit unusual. But I found it a great way to catch up . . .

If I Change My Name to Millionaire, Will I Win the Lottery?

We’ve said it many times before: your name is not your destiny. Unless you choose to make it so. In our continuing quest to bring you Grade A aptonyms from every walk of life, here’s the latest offering: + The author of a new bread cookbook, Kneadlessly Simple, named Nancy Baggett. (HT: Raj Pandravada.) + The president of American Rivers, . . .

Toronto's Punny Business

As much as we love aptonyms on this blog, we also appreciate a cleverly named store (not, however, all those horrible names for hair salons — Hair Port, Shear Elegance, etc.). Our readers in Toronto, for instance, may have stopped in for lunch today at the Hindenburger (the patties are flame-broiled, naturally), after picking up a new racket at The . . .

Aptonyms for the New Year

Because a new year has begun, it seems a good time to unveil some of the aptonyms that we’ve been accumulating. (Earlier aptonym posts can be found here.) 1. During a recent N.F.L. game between the Bears and the Vikings, played on a frigid Monday night in Chicago, I learned that the city has a prominent meteorologist named Amy Freeze. . . .

This Week in Aptonyms

In keeping with our aptonym tradition, a bunch of helpful readers have sent in good examples of people whose last names go well with their professions. To wit: From a reader named James: Apparently, the city of Boston has a tree inspector named Leif Fixen. (Also, the photo credit on that story goes to a guy named Kamerman.) From our . . .

This Week’s (In)Appropriate Names

Aptonyms are the gifts that keep giving. You toss out one or two here on the blog, and readers keep coming back with more. This week’s aptonyms include: A home-schooling mom and blogger whose last name is Hermitt. (Okay, it’s not great, but it’s pretty good.) And this Newsday article about teacher-student sex affairs quotes a “former Hofstra University professor . . .

Aptonym Alert

We’ve blogged in the past about aptonyms — names that fit the people who own them, like a magazine fact-checker named Paige Worthy — and we’ve even held an aptonym contest. So we would have been delinquent to not make note of a byline in a special section of yesterday’s Times called “The Business of Green,” whose lead article, “Millions . . .

The FREAK-est Links

“[H]ybrid record label and blog” launches with new plan for selling music. (Earlier) A lesson in “Marijuanomics 101”. (HT: Economics International) A classic aptonym. (Earlier) Japanese engineers develop “musical roads”. (HT: BoingBoing)

Announcing the Winners of Our Aptonym Contest

Last week, I blogged about a magazine fact-checker named Paige Worthy and asked you to submit your best aptonyms. You responded mightily, with nearly 300 submissions. Judging from this sample, the dentists, proctologists, and eye doctors of America seem particularly prone to aptonymous behavior. Below you will find the best submissions. As promised, the readers who sent them will receive . . .

Contest: Beat This Aptonym

Can you beat the aptonym “Paige Worthy” for a magazine fact-checker? Come and try your luck in the Freakonomics “Aptonym-Off.”

We’re All Semanticists Now: Dr. Beaver’s Response

I blogged recently about a linguistics paper so stuffed with jargon that it read to me as if it had poorly translated from the original Croatian. I also wondered what the paper had to do with belly buttons, as was suggested by its title (“Have You Noticed That Your Belly Button Lint Colour Is Related to the Colour of Your . . .

It’s All Semantics

For reasons that may not make sense to anyone else, I recently performed a Google search for “They Might Be Giants” and “Belly Button.” This was the second hit: a paper by a Stanford linguist named David Beaver (that’s not an aptonym, is it?) called “Have You Noticed That Your Belly Button Lint Colour Is Related to the Colour of . . .

In Praise of Ancient Technologies, and Aptonyms

There was an interesting article in the New York Times sports section the other day about how the All England Club has kept the Wimbledon tournament free of pigeons since 1999 by employing a man named Wayne Davis to bring in his small flock of peregrine falcons. Until Davis came along, the pigeons were a real nuisance. “In the old, . . .

The FREAKest Links: Paper Beats Rock and Boys Named Hell Edition

As enduring fans of the sport, we were glad to hear that ESPN2 broadcast its first coverage of the 2007 USA Rock Paper Scissors League championship, which took place in May at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay. The single-elimination competition was won by Jamie Langridge from Odessa, Texas, who employed a “complex adaptive” strategy to take home the Bud Light . . .