Like obesity and crotch shots, one of America's favorite pastimes is baby name judging. And now that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's baby name has been revealed (North West, no middle name), everyone is jumping on the name-judging bandwagon.
A thick but otherwise unremarkable clamshell takes on gravitas as the Ponderous Ark. A tiny cone of whorled white, like a miniature serving of soft-serve ice cream, goes by the improbably Dickensian name of Humphrey Wentletrap.
Why should we when we can outsource it to our cell phones? Our brains, honed to remember key people in our lives, cannot possibly remember the myriad numbers of celebrities and acquaintances we meet, which is why we call in Google.
He made a name for himself as the Giants head coach, but what you may not know about Bill Parcells is that his actual first name is "Duane." And "Bill" isn't even his middle name he uses instead -- it's a nickname.
My son is competitive, and he is certainly touchier than my daughter when it comes to criticism. He's identical to me. I wonder if the fight for his name is the source of his ambition. It certainly had something to do with mine.
Names matter. Whenever we hear one, we draw a wide range of assumptions about the individual person (or item) in question. Just ask the fish merchant whose stroke of naming genius turned the undesirable Patagonian toothfish into the haute cuisine Chilean sea bass.
The irony of the Western invention of the "Arab Spring" is that regardless of citizenry remonstrations for "self-determination," we still continue to see the Arab region in our eyes and not through theirs.