What’s in a name?

According to the US Social Security Administration, Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Ethan and Matthew were the five most popular baby boy names of the year 2006, respectively. The top-5 baby girl spots were filled out by Emily, Emma, Madison, Isabella and Ava.

Since I’m somewhat lagging in my irregular spurts of blog postings that nobody ever reads, consider this just another brief journal entry by a certain someone with an unpopular name — one that barely makes the top 1000 for the past ten years (in the USA, at least).

Particularly interesting is that even “Mohamed” is a more popular name than mine, cutting in as the 467th most (and rising) popular baby name of 2006, whilst even “Jesus” (the name) continues to hover around the No. 74 mark. This may help explain why their “birthdays” are celebrated annually while my own (earlier this month) went by unnoticed.

Clearly, I’m doing something wrong. Or nothing earth-shattering at all.

Hopefully more successful in their lives will be the students by the names of Michael, Christopher, Matthew, Joshua, David, Jessica, Ashley, Brittany, Amanda and Sarah who entered college this year. They are the class of 2011 and the topic of Wisconsin’s Beloit College’s annual Mindset List, which provides “a look at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of today’s first-year students, most of them born in 1989”. Robert, Ryan, Brandon, Kevin, Kyle, Kayla, Tiffany, Amber and Lauren are other names in the top-20 list of their year of birth.


Each August for the past decade, as faculty prepare for the academic year, Beloit College in Wisconsin has released the Beloit College Mindset List. Its 70 items provide a look at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of today’s first-year students, most of them born in 1989. It is the creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief.

Latchkey kids for most of their lives, students entering college this fall think nothing of arriving home with parents still at work, then e-mailing or texting their friends, instantly updating their autobiographies on “Facebook” or “MySpace,” and listening to their iPods while doing their research on Wikipedia. They’ve grown up with Rush Limbaugh urging his fellow Dittoheads to excoriate liberals, with having been taught by an equal number of women and men in the classroom, and with women having been hired as police chiefs of major cities.

Food has always been a health concern. Consumer awareness about ingredients and fats has always been energized. They’ve never “rolled down” a car window, and to them Jack Nicholson is mainly known as the guy who played “The Joker.”


Also gaining popularity is “Oscar”, the 118th most given name to children born in 2006. True to human nature, there will probably be many cats littered this year given this name on account of the brief stardom of Oscar the Hospice Cat and his “purported ability to predict the impending death of terminally ill patients” in July.

Oscar, the therapy cat

And true to internet culture, he’s already been given the LOLcat treatment.

Image credit: Stew Milne/AP via random pranksters

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