Tuesday’s Forum

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Teve says:


    Most of the mega-acre, micro-population prairie states were created to help Republicans maintain control of the federal govt in the late 19th century. They were created to pack the senate and in so doing broke various rules and customs about when a territory should be …

    2/ allowed to become states. Jammed through as they were these states have remained perpetual federal dependencies, entirely incapable of surviving on their own without permanent federal subsidies.

    3/ Now, it is what it is. But no senator from South Dakota can lecture anyone about who gets to become a state.

  2. sam says:
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This always pisses me off:

    The database defines mass killings as four or more dead, not including the shooter.

    Why is it dependent upon how good a shot the murderer is? So a shooting in which 22 people get hit but only 2 or 3 die doesn’t count as a mass shooting? Stupidity.

  4. CSK says:

    This is worth repeating;


    I think the Trumpkins are pretending Powell didn’t do this.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature. Let’s just say, I don’t see this ending well.

  6. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “The database defines mass killings as four or more dead, not including the shooter. Why is it dependent upon how good a shot the murderer is? So a shooting in which 22 people get hit but only 2 or 3 die doesn’t count as a mass shooting? Stupidity.”

    Not to harsh your buzz, but the sentence you cite refers to mass killings, not mass shootings. So by definition, if 22 people are hit but only a couple die, it is a mass shooting but still not a mass killing…

  7. JohnMcC says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Your comment strummed a few strings on still-functioning neurons and pretty soon I was in Wikipedia wondering why I was getting such strong ‘signal’ from the combination of ice-crystals and apocalyptic musings…

    Turns out that one early researcher on seeding clouds was Dr Benjamin Vonnegut who was the brother of the novelist. Dr V made the silver iodide crystals used to seed the clouds that seemed to them to have worked. That became the inspiration for the ‘Ice-Nine’ in Cat’s Cradle.

    I’d known that years ago. Nice to be reminded. Thanks. Have a fine day!

  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    11 National Guard Soldiers transporting vaccines held at gunpoint in West Texas, suspect arrested

    “Mr. Harris appeared to be mentally disturbed. This was a very dangerous situation since the suspect was standing in the midst of the unarmed Guardsman with a loaded weapon when the Idalou Officers arrived on scene. We are grateful that the officers were able to take him into custody without any of the Guardsmen, the officers or the suspect getting hurt,” said Eric Williams, Idalou Police Chief.

    But not any less disturbed by the yahoos running around out there waving guns.

  9. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Harris told police he thought the guardsmen had kidnapped a woman and child.


  10. CSK says:

    A matter I’ve sometimes pondered: Why are southern and southwestern men so often given names such as “Bobby Joe” instead of “Robert Joseph,” or “Ricky Dave” instead of “Richard David”?

  11. Kathy says:

    I’ve this notion when we finally meet aliens, we’ll be disappointed that they, too, work jobs, have schools, raise their young, and pretty much go about their lives as we do.

  12. Teve says:

    @CSK: I don’t know but I was shocked when I saw that my dad, who is from Kentucky, has a birth certificate that doesn’t say Richard, it says Ricky.

  13. CSK says:

    As we speak, there’s probably an extraterrestrial on the space alien OTB named “Yhtak” wondering the exact same thing.

  14. CSK says:

    It seems to work retroactively as well. Joseph William Namath became Joe Willie Namath when he attended Alabama.

  15. MarkedMan says:

    Anyone think it’s significant that they have had the Colorado shooter in custody for hours and there is not a word about motive yet?

  16. Beth says:

    So, I know I’m a one trick pony on this issue, but we were discussing this the other day:

    Now, I’m a little numb to Republican’s anti-Trans nonsense and honestly, I’m somewhat numb to the continual scroll of Trans murders and beatings in my newsfeed, but this absolutely shocked me. I’m going to go out on a bit of a Reynolds here and call it what it is: attempted genocide.

    now, you’re probably, “well, that’s a little bit of hyperbole.”, Let’s look at the bill:

    Which states in part (para 7 is part of the definitions):

    (7) “Participate” means to provide, perform, assist with, facilitate, refer for, counsel for, advise with regard to, admit for the purposes of providing, or take part in any way in providing any healthcare service or any form of healthcare service.

    17-80-504. Right of conscience.
    (a) A medical practitioner, healthcare institution, or healthcare payer:

    (1) Has the right not to participate in a healthcare service that violates his, her, or its conscience;
    (2) Is not required to participate in a healthcare service that violates his, her, or its conscience;
    (3) Is not civilly, criminally, or administratively liable for declining to participate in a healthcare service that violates his, her, or its conscience;

    This has nothing to do with prescribing hormones or performing Gender Affirming Surgeries. This allows an EMT to allow someone to bleed out from a gunshot wound if they are Trans. This allows ERs to turn away Gay people with a broken arm. It allows hospitals to refuse to treat AIDS patients. The whole goal of this law is to encourage LGBT people to hurry up and die.

    Also, for what its worth, and not many people actually discuss this, but these same sort of religious exemptions that are supposed to inflict harm on LGBT people can also inflict harm on Black People and Women. There are tons of mainstream bigots that couch their racial and misogynistic bigotry in terms of religious window dressing.

    Suffering is the point.

  17. Beth says:
  18. CSK says:

    According to the NYTimes, the shooter is 21 years old. No name given yet.

    Possibly he was recently fired by King Sooper and returned to take his revenge by killing people who had absolutely nothing to do with his firing. Not that it would be okay for him to shoot the individuals who did.

  19. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: If that were the case, I find it odd that nothing came out. I mean, wouldn’t other employees have recognized him and then talked to press and friends and so forth?

    But the world is full of odd things that turn out to be nothing…

  20. Jen says:

    @CSK: The shooter’s name has just been released; it’s Ahmad Al Alissa.


  21. Sleeping Dog says:


    Cause the mother wanted to name the boy after the father, but wasn’t sure who it was…

    I’ll probably be cancelled for that.

  22. DrDaveT says:


    I’ve this notion when we finally meet aliens, we’ll be disappointed that they, too, work jobs, have schools, raise their young, and pretty much go about their lives as we do.

    That depends. If childrearing and schooling are like the Camiroi, it will be anything but disappointing.

  23. inhumans99 says:


    Not to mention have their own addiction problems or are nasty looking creatures (see the great films The Hidden and I Come In Peace, which is also called Dark Angel), as the guy who plays Lt. John Masterson says in The Hidden, Altairians are a filthy people.

    Both films might be considered cult classics with great casts (Kyle MacLachlan in The Hidden, Dolph Lundgren in I Come In Peace), but wikipedia says The Hidden was a modest hit when released but the love for The Hidden has only grown over the years amongst the films many fans.

    I have not checked the box office for I Come In Peace, but a lot of action/science fiction/Dolph Lundgren fans usually give the film high praise, and I suspect it is a slightly more unknown Dolph Lundgren film.

  24. DrDaveT says:


    I don’t know but I was shocked when I saw that my dad, who is from Kentucky, has a birth certificate that doesn’t say Richard, it says Ricky.

    It’s probably worth pointing out that some perfectly common English given names have their origins as nicknames for other common names. Naming a girl Nancy or Polly (instead of Ann or Mary) is the exact equivalent of naming a kid Billy or Jack (instead of William or John). And no, I don’t know how you get “Polly” from “Mary”.

  25. Kathy says:


    Spooky 🙂

    It reminds me of a joke: If there are an infinity of parallel universes, shouldn’t there be a parallel universe where no parallel universes exist?

  26. CSK says:

    Or Peggy from Margaret. I had aunt named Margaret who was known as Peggy when she was young.

    The comparison of Nancy to Ann doesn’t quite work, since Nancy is a well-established name for females, whereas Billy as a birth name for males is still an oddity outside of the southern U.S.

  27. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: Somebody observed that if we ever contact the UFO aliens we’ll find out they aren’t the geniuses who developed faster than light travel. They’ll be the delinquent sons of the geniuses, doing the interstellar equivalent of cruising country roads knocking down mailboxes.

  28. gVOR08 says:

    @Beth: I used to add any links or typography in the Preview window. When we lost the Preview function it took me months to get used to inserting stuff as I wrote. I still forget a link now and again and it’s a pain to insert them in the Edit window.

  29. CSK says:

    If you spend too much time thinking about things like that your head will start to hurt.

  30. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: Okay, so it looks like the Colorado shooter was shot himself and was in the hospital for treatment, which probably explains the delay in finding out why he did it.

  31. CSK says:

    He’s been charged with ten counts of murder and is in stable condition, so he should be able to talk. One report I read said that he was expected to be released from the hospital today, but that may not be correct.

  32. CSK says:

    The NYTimes says the suspect is likely to be released to jail later this afternoon.

  33. CSK says:

    The suspect’s brother describes him as deeply disturbed and paranoid, believing that people were after him.

  34. Mister Bluster says:

    Police in Boulder, Colo., have identified the suspect in Monday’s shooting rampage at a grocery store as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21.
    The suspect is from Arvada, a small city between Denver and Boulder. He was wounded during the shooting and was expected to be released from the hospital and sent to the county jail sometime Tuesday, Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said.

    People kill people with guns in this country because they can.

  35. Kathy says:


    That’s only positive proof I’ve got a brain 🙂

  36. CSK says:

    Oh, there are other proofs.

  37. DrDaveT says:


    Or Peggy from Margaret.

    That one I know. You go from Margaret to Maggie (non-rhotic dialect) to Meg (vowel shift) to Peg to Peggy (diminutive). The hard step is Meg to Peg, which is like Rick(ie) to Dick(ie) or Will(y) to Bill(y), and seems to be unpredictable.

    Similarly, Mary to Molly to Polly. Mary –> Molly and Sarah –> Sally are unexpected, but real.

    The comparison of Nancy to Ann doesn’t quite work, since Nancy is a well-established name for females

    No, you missed my point — Nancy was NOT a well-established name for females, it was a nickname for people named Ann, until recently. It was every bit as much an oddity 200+ years ago when people started putting “Nancy” on birth certificates as it is today when people put “Jimmy” or “Bobby” on birth certificates.

    Molly, Polly, Nancy, Jerry, Gary, Kathy, Jenny, Carol, Carrie, Tony… All of these are reasonably common given names today, and all of them were originally only used as nicknames.

  38. DrDaveT says:


    They’ll be the delinquent sons of the geniuses, doing the interstellar equivalent of cruising country roads knocking down mailboxes.

    From the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio play:

    Ford: Unfortunately, I got stuck on the Earth for rather longer than I’d intended. I came for a week and was stranded for 15 years.
    Arthur: but how did you get there in the first place?
    Ford: Easy. I got a lift with a teaser. […] Teasers are usually rich kids with nothing to do. They cruise around looking for planets that haven’t made interstellar contact yet, and buzz them.
    Arthur: Buzz them?
    Ford: Yes. They find some isolated spot with very few people around, then land right by some poor unsuspecting soul whom no one’s ever going to believe and then strut up and down in front of him wearing silly antennae on their head and making “beep beep” noises. Rather childish really.

  39. CSK says:

    All of them sound a hell of a lot better than Billy Bob.

  40. Names are interesting and a great illustration of how what we take to be “normal” is just a social function.

    Think about the racial implications for determining what a “normal” name is, or is not. (And when it is asserted that a name is “made up” as if all names aren’t).

    I am going to admit if I find out someone’s name is “Billy Bob” I am likely not to assume that they are a nuclear physicist. Is that fair? (And consider the studies of employers and resumes and how it is more likely that a “Black sounding” name is more likely to be rejected than those with “white” ones).

    FWIW, one of my Associate Dean’s birth name is “Billy” (he goes by “Bill”). He has a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Northwestern.

    (I have two older cousins names Ricky and one named Billy–I always assumed they were nicknames, now I am not so sure).

  41. Teve says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I had a relatively flat out refuse to believe me when I told her that a couple hundred years ago it wasn’t uncommon for a woman to be a junior. As in her mother is Alice and she is Alice Jr.

  42. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    What I’m wondering is why someone would officially name a kid “Billy Bob.” And why is the name almost invariably double-barreled? (Billy Bob sounds sillier–to my ear–than Billy.) And why is the proclivity southern, and not, say, northeastern?

  43. Teve says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: guy who taught my PY 203 (intro to quantum) class wore cowboy boots and watched NASCAR.

    One of the reasons I’ve only ever seen about 10 minutes of the big bang theory and despise that show is that they were just playing to the tedious stereotypes, when the real variety of physics people was a lot more colorful and weird than that. Yeah, the Sheldon types exist, but they’re like 10%. The rest of the group are cowboys, jocks, stoners, gamers, womanizers, chefs, surfers, credit card scammers, unusual people of every variety. I knew one grad student who could’ve been Paris Hilton’s sister. I knew another guy named Matt, who, even though NC State used a lottery system to determine which students got football tickets, and you often couldn’t get one, he had rigged it such that he always had 50 or so and if you went by his office and asked him for tickets he’d just pull them out of a drawer and hand them to you. And Saturday morning he’d be sitting in a chair in the parking lot four hours before the game and already half drunk.

  44. Teve says:

    James John Liautaud is from Illinois and he goes by Jimmy John. Kinda similar

  45. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: It changes over time and place too. When I was a kid, we would have been startled at names like Josh and Joel, which sounded so old and biblical, but a generation later they were closing in on the “most popular boy’s name” spot. More recently “Olivia” became big, and that was definitely assumed to be an old biddy when I was a wee ‘un. I once asked my daughter if anyone in her class was named Joe or Jim. No, not a one. I thought for a minute and asked if any were named Joseph or James. Yes, several. It was then that I realized that in her time and space, diminutives were just no longer a thing.

  46. @CSK: I certainly don’t know the origins. And I subjectively agree that “Billy Bob” has certain connotations.

    My point is that those connotations are the result of social constructs (likely mass media tropes).

    If “Billy Bob Einstein” had discovered the theory of relativity or “Billy Bob Shakespeare” had written all those plays, our perception would be quite different.

    Still, it is definitely a Southern proclivity that I do not fully understand (but the stereotype southern Billy Bob is of a type, as is a northeastern Vinny. Not a lot of Vinny’s down here).

    Another southern naming (especially the deep south) that I don’t get: the practice of using a kid’s middle name as his (usually it is a male) as the kid’s main name from birth.

    If you are going to use the middle name from birth, why didn’t you make that the first name?

  47. @Teve: There are all types, to be sure. I speaking solely to stereotypes.

  48. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    My wife, whose legal birth name is in fact Judy, remembers arguing with an elementary school teacher who insisted her name had to be Judith.

  49. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: I was teaching math in a class of ninth graders and I wondered why out of like 13 girls in the class, I had three Jasmines. And I dwelled on that for days, and finally I asked one of the other teachers how come I’ve got all these Jasmines in my class, and she said because Aladdin came out 15 years ago..

  50. CSK says:

    At one point, I was overrun with “Lisas.” Five in a class of twenty-five.

  51. Teve says:

    @CSK: maybe the Simpsons was popular?

  52. Michael Cain says:

    To the best of my knowledge, my grandfather Milton Vernon Cain never went by anything except Bill.

    My father had to correct people all of his life because his birth certificate said “Don”, not “Donald”.

    K. Jonathan Smith used to be considered by many to sound more prestigious than Jonathan K. Smith. Or at least, spoke of old family connections, perhaps involving money.

    The strangest name I’ve ever run into was a guy whose mother wrote “M4” on the hospital paperwork.

    From 1953 to about 2003, “Michael” was one of the top three most common names each year. #1 in more than half of them.

  53. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Well, “Vinny” is almost always short for “Vincent.” And I don’t know any Tonys who aren’t originally Anthonys. At one time, Roman Catholics were enjoined to name their kids after saints. (This might still be true, for all I know.) Anthony and Vincent were very popular names with Italian Catholics, of which there are many in the northeast.

    As I said, it’s the double-barreled nicknames used as birth names that really confound me.

  54. CSK says:

    It was a bit prior to that.

  55. Kylopod says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican: A bit of a tangent, but you reminded me of the story where Facebook wouldn’t let a woman use her real maiden name, Batman.


  56. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    If the child is given the same first name as a parent, the child may be called by her or his middle name to distinguish child from parent. That’s true of me. If I may be blunt, it’s also a pain in the ass.

  57. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Working on my family tree exposes some fascinating naming choices.
    Mr and Mrs Huey (from SC and AL) named their children…….. Lewy and Baby
    Bless their hearts .

  58. @CSK: That at least makes sense. There is a practice that I have encountered in the deep south wherein the child is called by the middle name, even if they are not named after the parent.

  59. Jen says:

    @CSK: In college, I was one of five Jen/Jenny/Jennifers in an upper-level class of 20 students.

    It was one of the top girls’ names from 1968 (rank: 4), and was the top girls’ name from 1970-1985, when it was finally displaced from the top spot by Jessica.

    The Mike Doughty song “27 Jennifers” hits home.

  60. CSK says:

    “Olivia” and “Noah” are the top names for 2021. “Olivia” has been holding steady since 2019. “Noah” has replaced “Liam.”
    @Steven L. Taylor:
    That is odd. Sometimes I think southerners just like being perverse.

  61. CSK says:

    Baby Huey? That’s child abuse.

  62. Mister Bluster says:

    The Name Game


    Thank You Shirley Ellis

  63. OzarkHillbilly says:

    My father’s Best Man was Joe Don. My mother’s best friend was Bobby June. And yes, Texas.

  64. dazedandconfused says:

    If I wished to abuse my son in that linguistic environment I’d name him Sandford Richard.

  65. Mister Bluster says:
  66. Beth says:

    I was given a 1 letter first name. It’s amazing people’s inability to spell a 1 letter first name. I ended up going by my middle name for a long time because it’s really frustrating having to correct people constantly and other kids used my name to queer bash me.

    I was in my 30’s when my mom finally told me that I was named after my grandmother. Turns out that was never my correct name and when I finally fixed it I used my grandmother’s full name as my middle name. Which, oddly enough, gives me the same initials as my daughter.

    There were like 10 of her name when she was in the hospital. So, that’ll be fun.

  67. Kylopod says:

    @Beth: I have a 1-letter middle name. My parents intended it as a nod to the (apocryphal) story about how Harry S Truman is spelled.

  68. Mister Bluster says:
  69. Mimai says:

    @Kathy: Your comment reminded me of Ted Chiang’s short story “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate.” It’s not about parallel universes per se (rather, it’s about time travel, future selves, etc), but it’s a fantastic read. Many layers.

  70. CSK says:

    “Joe Don” seems to be quite a popular name in Texas,

  71. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I can speak to that at least in some cases: naming the kid after somebody else “must be done!” But then not really liking the name or, if the person is a close family member, wanting to differentiate between the child and the adult.

    I love my mother’s family but I once sat with some family members around the fireplace in a little sitting room in Bunclody, Ireland, one of six males and four females, and five of the males had the same name and three of the females shared a name. Middle names would have been a blessing. On the male side at least we had two diminutives, but even so I shared mine with two others.

  72. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: My son’s name is my mother’s maiden name. Not unknown but quite rare as a first name. Until a certainly sparkly vampire with the same last name showed up in film and print, and there was a spate of boys having it as their first name that lasted several years.

  73. grumpy realist says:

    @DrDaveT: I got named with a diminutive variant of the “official” name and have always thought at some point I’ll change it to the traditional one. Not that it makes too much difference if you’re Slavic. (Doubled-barrelled name Alexandar Nicholayevich Dimitri Michaelov gets collapsed into “Sasha”, for example.)

    I just feel sorry for the kiddos whose parents named them after characters in the Game of Thrones….

  74. Kathy says:


    Picture a story where the protagonist gets lost amid parallel universes, and must find their way home (yes, that’s the premise of “Sliders”). Suppose after visiting many parallel universes, they find their way to a parallel universe where parallel universes can’t exist.

    Now they’re trapped.

  75. Mimai says:

    @MarkedMan: Bunclody! Great walking trails in that area.

  76. Mimai says:

    @Kathy: Schrödinger’s universe?

  77. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If you are going to use the middle name from birth, why didn’t you make that the first name?

    In my experience, usually because the first name was given to honor/appease/placate a living relative, but the parents didn’t actually like it. Or the relative.

    (Extreme case: my aunt Ann, given name Sarepta, after her grandmother…)

  78. Kathy says:


    I think that is how Rick and Morty will end.

  79. Teve says:
  80. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    And no, I don’t know how you get “Polly” from “Mary”.

    The same way you get “Peggy” from “Margaret.”

  81. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Long ago, I read somewhere that “Ann,” “Nancy,” and “Hannah” are all derivatives of one name.

  82. DrDaveT says:


    And I dwelled on that for days, and finally I asked one of the other teachers how come I’ve got all these Jasmines in my class, and she said because Aladdin came out 15 years ago.

    My favorite example of this is “Madison” as a girl’s name. It didn’t exist — at all — as a girl’s name when I was a kid.

    Then suddenly it was the most popular girl’s name in America, and it hung on for years. Per Wikipedia:

    According to the Social Security Administration, the name “Madison” was the 216th most popular name in the United States for girls in 1990, the 29th most popular name for girls in 1995, and the 3rd most popular name for girls in 2000. In 2005, the name finally cracked the top 50 most popular girls’ names in the United Kingdom.

    What was the trigger? Darryl Hannah’s character in the 1984 movie “Splash”. Which is hilarious, because in the movie the joke is that she chose the name “Madison” from seeing a “Madison Avenue” sign in New York, not knowing that it’s not anybody’s given name.

  83. Kylopod says:

    @DrDaveT: My favorite is that a lot of parents named their girls “Khaleesi” before the final season of Game of Thrones came out.

  84. DrDaveT says:


    And I don’t know any Tonys who aren’t originally Anthonys.

    From a quick peek at the Wikipedia “people named Tony” page, we have
    Tony An
    Tony Brooks-James
    Tony Corbin
    Tony Cristiani
    Tony Danza
    Tony Douglas
    Tony Drago
    Tony Haynes
    Tony Jeffery
    Tony Johns
    Tony Judt
    Tony Levine

  85. Kylopod says:

    @DrDaveT: Quick glance at Wikipedia: Tony Danza was born Anthony Salvatore Iadanza.

  86. DrDaveT says:


    If I wished to abuse my son in that linguistic environment I’d name him Sandford Richard.

    I was watching baseball with an Australian friend once, a long time ago, when she suddenly collapsed to the floor, helpless with mirth. The announcers had just announced the new batter, Minnesota Twins outfielder Robert Randall Bush. His nickname, as you could probably guess, was a diminutive of his middle name.

  87. Jen says:

    When I learned that “Jennifer” is derived from “Guinevere” I went through a phase of wanting to be called Gwen.

    My parents were not amused. I learned later that my father had an ex-girlfriend named Gwen, and neither of my parents realized that Jennifer/Guinevere were essentially the same.

  88. CSK says:

    Well, Tony Danza was born Anthony Salvatore LaDanza, so he started out with a full first name. Probably some of the others did as well.

  89. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Names evolve in funny ways, especially when they cross cultural boundaries.

    In the mid-Byzantine era, there was a feminine name “Theophano,” along with a masculine version, “Theophanes.” I’ve read this name is still around, but it has changed. In English, it’s now “Tiffany.”

    BTW, it means something like a divine epiphany.

  90. DrDaveT says:


    yes, that’s the premise of “Sliders”

    Also Dianna Wynn Jones’s The Homeward Bounders, C. S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew, P. C. Hodgell’s Kencyrath novels, and I’m sure a few others.

  91. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “If you are going to use the middle name from birth, why didn’t you make that the first name?”

    In my case, it would have been because my mom had decided that my brother should be named “David” and I would be named “Jonathan” because David and Jonathan were life-long friends in the Bible stories about them, but that my dad named me on the birth certificate after his favorite cousin. Going by my middle name didn’t actually happen, though, because I only got an initial in the middle name place for some reason. My mom lobbied me to change my name legally to Jonathan for about 10 years or so when I was young, but finally gave up.

    No, I have never gone by my middle initial, but I have gone by Italian derivatives of my first name of various sorts–particularly while I was in the produce business, which has a significant Italian presence to this day from what I hear. (Having an Italian family name helped with that, too, but not as much as you might imagine.)

  92. DrDaveT says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    The same way you get “Peggy” from “Margaret.”

    The tricky step is how you get from “Mary” to “Molly”. Like Sarah -> Sally, it seems random.

  93. CSK says:

    Donald Trump will tell you the name Tiffany comes from the jewelry store, after which he named his youngest daughter, because he though it would be “classy,” Gack.

  94. DrDaveT says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Long ago, I read somewhere that “Ann,” “Nancy,” and “Hannah” are all derivatives of one name.

    You might enjoy this website: Behind the Name
    Gender: Feminine
    English and Manx form of ANNE (1). In the English-speaking world, both this spelling and Anne have been used since the late Middle Ages. Currently Ann is less popular than Anne (and both are less popular than their relatives Anna and Hannah).

    Related Names
    Variants: Anne, Anna(English)
    Diminutives: Annette, Annie, Nan, Nance, Nancy, Nanette, Nannie, Nanny(English)
    Other Languages & Cultures:
    Quanna(African American) Hannah(Arabic) Ane, Anne(Basque) Anna, Hanna(Belarusian) Anna, Hannah(Biblical) Anna(Biblical Greek) Channah(Biblical Hebrew) Anna(Biblical Latin) Anna, Annaig, Annick(Breton) Ana, Anna, Anelia, Aneliya, Ani, Anka, Neli(Bulgarian) Aina, Anna, Anaïs(Catalan) Ana, Hana, Anica, Anita, Anja, Anka, Ankica, Jana, Nensi(Croatian) Anna, Hana, Aneta(Czech) Anna, Anne, Hanna, Ane, Anette, Anika, Anita, Anja, Annette, Anni, Hanne(Danish) Anna, Anne, Annelien, Hanna, Hannah, Anika, Anita, Anja, Anke, Anneke, Annet, Annette, Annie, Annika, Annuska, Anouk, Ans, Antje(Dutch) Anna, Anne, Anneli, Annika, Anu(Estonian) Anna(Faroese) Anna, Anne, Hanna, Anita, Anja, Anneli, Anni, Anniina, Annika, Annikki, Annukka, Anu, Hannele, Niina(Finnish) Anne, Anaïs, Annette, Annick, Annie, Anny, Anouk, Ninon(French) Antje(Frisian) Ana, Anano, Ani, Anuki(Georgian) Anna, Anne, Hanna, Hannah, Anika, Anina, Anita, Anja, Anneli, Annelie, Annett, Annette, Anni, Annika, Hanne(German) Anna(Greek) Chana, Chanah, Hanna, Hannah(Hebrew) Anna, Hanna, Anett, Anikó, Panka, Panna, Panni(Hungarian) Anna, Hanna(Icelandic) Nainsí(Irish) Anna, Annabella, Annetta(Italian) Anna, Anita(Latvian) Ona(Lithuanian) Anke, Antje(Low German) Ana(Macedonian) Anna, Anne, Hanna, Anette, Anita, Anja, Annette, Anniken, Hanne(Norwegian) Anna, Anaïs(Occitan) Anna, Hanna, Aneta, Ania, Anika, Anita, Anka, Hania(Polish) Ana, Anabela, Anita(Portuguese) Ana, Anișoara, Anca, Ancuța, Ani(Romanian) Anna, Ania, Annushka, Anushka, Anya(Russian) Annag, Nandag(Scottish) Ana, Anica, Anja, Anka, Jana(Serbian) Anna, Hana(Slovak) Ana, Anica, Anika, Anita, Anja, Anuša, Nuša(Slovene) Hana(Sorbian) Ana, Anabel, Ani, Anita(Spanish) Anna, Anne, Hanna, Anette, Anita, Anja, Anneli, Annelie, Annette, Annika, Hanne(Swedish) Anna, Ganna, Hanna(Ukrainian) Henda, Hendel, Hene, Henye(Yiddish)

  95. flat earth luddite says:

    Interesting and fun, thanks. Search for our ancestral name leaves me questioning how an Armenian name wound up in Scandahovia… but then again, family legend had it that several members of the family got confused about the proper ordering of “loot/pillage/burn”

  96. Sleeping Dog says:


    Tiffany = classy. Hmmmm. On any given night, in any strip club in America, there is a dancer named Tiffany.

  97. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Well, what do expect from a guy who gold-plates his toilets?

  98. Monala says:

    @Beth: Infuriating!

  99. Monala says:

    @DrDaveT: It was a play on words in England to switch the first letter of a nickname, to create a new nickname. Thus Mary became Molly became Polly, Edward became Ed became Ted, Richard became Rick became Dick, etc.

  100. CSK says:

    Fascinating. Thanks. I didn’t know that.

  101. DrDaveT says:


    It was a play on words in England to switch the first letter of a nickname, to create a new nickname.

    I get that, but it’s not a rule unless it’s predictive. If you can’t predict when (say) Will will become Bill, then you’re just retconning. That was the beauty of (say) Grimm’s Law — it not only explained the cases you’d seen, it also predicted the ones you hadn’t yet seen.

    So yes, in some cases there’s an unexpected change of initial consonant. Meg becomes Peg; Ed becomes Ted; Will becomes Bill; Rick becomes Dick; Rob becomes Bob. But why those particular consonants? Why does R go to D for Richard/Dick, but R goes to B for Robert/Bob? There’s no pattern.

    The only pattern that is actually explicable is when names starting with a vowel become names starting with an ‘N’. The hypothesis is that the possessive phrase “mine Anne” was heard as “My Nan”, in the same way that “mine uncle” was heard as “my nuncle”, leading to the faux word ‘nuncle’. Thus Nan, Nannie, Nancy. But that doesn’t work for most of them.

  102. de stijl says:

    I knew a man named Beverly Mountain X.

    Went by either Bev or Monty. Both worked.

    Biggest blowhard asshole I ever met.

    Smarmy narcissist. Minor league Trump type. Vile, vile person I had to deal with for 4 or 5 years.

    There is a social skill of successfully hiding and disguising disdain and hate.

    Edit: he was Beverly Mountain X the third or fourth or seventh I forget which. Abhorrent man. His wife was as bad if not worse.

  103. de stijl says:


    Tony Toni Tone – musical dudes from late 80s

  104. Kylopod says:

    According to Wikipedia, Randy Rainbow’s real name from birth is Randy Rainbow. His dad at some point changed his family name from Ribner to Rainbow.

    I’m skeptical of this story.

  105. Mimai says:

    @de stijl: Don’t sleep on the Deftones.

  106. de stijl says:


    True that. I like left of the dial.

    Def agree.

  107. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher dropped Rum Sodomy & The Lash into a casual comment on the Holiday thread like no one would notice.