The Name Shame

Millard understood.

Giving one’s children ridiculous, bizarre or otherwise perverse names is the height of parental arrogance and narcissism, an abuse of power in which Golden Rule considerations evaporate in the desire to place a distinctive mark on the child of one’s creation, like a brand or a particularly garish tattoo.

There is some weak historical evidence that an oddball name can point a child to leadership or other kinds of singular achievements by isolating him or her from peers. A number of U.S. Presidents have had rare names, with four using their middle monickers to be more distinctive, and one, Lyndon Johnson, being specifically named by his mother so he “would look good on a ballot.” But there is also evidence that strange names are handicaps, and no doubt at all that they risk making children a lot more miserable than calling them Ed, Elizabeth or Frank.

Over at Deadspin, Drew Magary has harsh criticism for the apparently rising trend of wacko names, and all power to him. He combed through a Parents Magazine survey of the names favored by 13,000 people, and arrived at the horrifying conclusion that “Americans are somehow getting even worse at naming children, and they show no signs of correcting themselves.”  Among his trenchant commentary on the names he discovered: Continue reading

Karen Owen’s “Fuck List” and the Rutgers Sex Video Suicide: Not So Different

Karen Owen is a recent graduate of Duke. Either they don’t comprehend the nature of the internet at Duke, or are graduating more than their share of cruel, thoughtless, reckless dolts, because Owen decided it would be a hoot to make a faux “senior thesis” Powerpoint presentation documenting her sexual activity with thirteen Duke athletes, none of whom gave consent to be named in her “study”. She classily dubbed it her “fuck list,” but it was unofficially titled “An education beyond the classroom: excelling in the realm of horizontal academics.”  (“Horizontal academics…get it?) Then she e-mailed the file to three “friends,” and, as you’ve probably guessed, one  or more of them sent it around to their friends, who eventually made it viral. Soon two websites decided to maximize the harm to all concerned, as websites are prone to do…especially websites called “Deadspin.” Continue reading

The Ethical Significance of Pete Rose’s Corked Bat

To cut to the chase: there is now irrefutable evidence that Pete Rose, Major League Baseball’s all-time hit leader who is currently banned from the game for betting on baseball, used a corked bat. How often he used it, how many other bats were similarly doctored, and what results he got from the illegal bat (s) are all unknown, and probably unknowable. The long, interesting and well-researched article about Rose’s bat on the website “Deadspin” points out that:

  • Corked bats (which have been doctored with a hollow chamber that is filled with cork, on the theory that it lightens the bat without sacrificing power) are forbidden by the rules of baseball, and their use constitutes cheating.
  • Their use is almost impossible to detect; only a handful of players have ever been caught using one, but it is believed that the cheaters are many and notable. Amos Otis, a star for the Kansas City Royals, admitted after he retired that his bats were corked for the majority of his career. Norm Cash, who won a shocking batting championship in 1961 with an average far above any he posted before or after, attributed his career year to a corked bat.
  • It is quite possible that corked bats don’t have any positive effect at all, and might even be worse than regular bats.

The last point cuts no ice with me. Continue reading