January 8, 2015 by libroshombre
“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare once asked. That’s what School Stickers, a British company, wanted to know. School Stickers sells motivational stickers to teachers and offers a service that “tracks children’s behavior and digitally rewards ones for behaving well.” 56,000 students were involved last year, and, according to the survey results on the www.SchoolStickers.com webpage, “Jacob, Daniel, Thomas, James and Adam are the names of the best behaved boys. Joseph, Cameron, William, Jake, and Joshua have a month to improve their behavior. Amy, Georgia, Emma, Charlotte, and Grace are the names of the best behaved girls. Ella, Bethany, Eleanor, Olivia, and Laura need to be good all December!”
Don’t kill the messenger. As School Stickers’ Managing Director Neil Hodges, said, “The annual Santa’s Naughty and Nice List is just a bit of fun.” Along those same lines, consider the title of Steven Levitt’s 2006 Freakanomics.com article: “The Next Time Your Daughter Brings Home a New Boyfriend, Be Sure To Ask His Middle Name.” A fan sent him a considerable number of clippings from six months of the Dallas Morning News that all featured horrible crimes committed by people who shared the middle name “Wayne.” Ten years earlier the NewsOfTheWeird.com site began running lists of accused murderers all with the middle name Wayne.
William Wayne Justice, on the other hand, was one of the great progressive legal minds in Texas history, and Ima Hogg, daughter of Governor Jim Hogg, was a truly great person and philanthropist. Few non-Germans crave the name “Hansel,” yet it’s also a noun for “a gift of good luck given at the beginning of the new year.” Those who dare can check out the library’s copy of “John Train’s Most Remarkable Names.” On page 57 you’ll find among Train’s documented names not only the twins Halloween and Easter Buggage and Houston, Texas undertaker Groaner Digger, but also Gretel von Garlic of New York City.
Albert Marquis was once a big name in names. He started “Marquis’ Who’s Who in America” in 1899, a half-century after the British invented the concept, which was only a list of prominent people at first. In 1897 the Brits began including more biographical information, and Marquis was inspired. So were many copycats. Our public library’s collection includes Who’s Who books in fields ranging from American art, the Bible, cartoon actor voices, outer space, opera, country music, oil spill prevention, golf, jazz, mythology, pop culture, World War II, “people in line to the British throne,” and a slew of literary ones, like Who’s Who in Shakespeare, and Zane Grey, and science fiction.
Then there are the scams. One type preys on the ignorant to get their credit card and other personal information through interviews and with promises of being included in a swanky book. Some folks seek out these impressive-looking publications for vanity and business reasons. There are European who’s who books that will certify your family as pure nobility, for a price.
So you have to admire a guy that embraces the nickname “Mr. Toilet.” Jack Sim is an entrepreneur in Singapore who decided to make the world a better place by improving global sanitation. He spearheads a number of projects, particularly the WTO, or World Toilet Organization. He’s even written and produced two feature-length movies, “Everybody’s Business” and “Life Without Toilets,” the latter filed in Bollywood complete with song and dance. India is home to the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, a museum dedicated to educating about historical trends in toilet development.
Surely they subscribe to the “2009-2014 Outlook for Wood Toilet Seats in GreaterChina.” You can have a copy for only $495 from Amazon, and it’s a bargain compared to the “2007-2012 World Outlook for Wood Toilet Seats,” which runs $795. At least check out the Amazon listing for the book’s customer reviews. They’re obviously fake, but hilarious. For example, “All I did was look at the cover, but I already knew from the start, this is, without a doubt, still a better story than ‘Twilight.’”
There’s no better place to figure out who’s who than your public library, where even the Camerons, Olivias, and Waynes of the world are welcome to learn. As long as they behave!