As most of you know, I draw a comic featuring a guy who inexplicably has no mouth, who lives with a cartoon dog that inexplicably has no mouth. And I end up with Spasmodic Dysphonia, a condition that prevents me from speaking.

Today in the news, the author of the book "100 Things to Do Before You Die" died at the age of 47 after hitting his head at home. That probably wasn't on the list.


Also in the news, a woman accused an actor of pulling down her top in a restaurant. The actor is infamous for his crude behavior, and his name is... wait for it... Andy Dick.


And of course everyone knows the story of fitness guru Jim Fixx who died of a heart attack at age 52. He wrote a book telling people how to, in essence, not die of a heart attack at the age of 52.


With so many famous people doing so many things, some of those things are bound to be ironic. But that might not be the full story. According to studies, people named Dennis are more likely to become dentists.


Being the moist robots that we are, apparently we can accidentally get programmed by tiny cues in the environment. For example, another study showed that people who have overweight friends are more likely to be overweight themselves. The things you associate with, and think about, influence who you are.

This is tricky stuff because you might decide to name your child Richard, hoping the "rich" part would take hold, only to find out he prefers to be called Dick.

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Aug 29, 2008
An English comic called Jimmy Carr added this to "100 Things To Do Before You Die"....

.....Call for Help!
Aug 28, 2008
[So murderers are literally "programmed to kill" then? I'm glad the court systems don't assume we're all just robots.]

Even if it did, it wouldn't change the fact that the court system is fully of moist robots who convict or acquit based on their own programming.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 28, 2008
In my <a href="http://skyvington.blogspot.com/2008/08/no-need-for-talk.html">Antipodes blog</a>, I've related an anecdote about a speechless cartoonist.
Aug 27, 2008
Never gave this much thought, but now that you mention it, I have encountered some rather interesting names in software development.

The QA manager named Kawal T. Kopp.
And that project manager: Massa D. Bayter.

Then there was that time I needed support for a beta product, I wound up speaking with a Customer Support Rep named Scott Tishu.

And I'll never forget Ivan Koder, a programmer. Boy could he pack away the vodka.

Once I was testing a new product whose UI Designer was Kannu Seit. Sorry, Kannu, I couldn't.

I assume everyone has heard of that nasty sales rep from Holden MA, whose name is Richard Hertz.

And then there's this guy, R. T. Franklin Munwell, who writes documentation. Forgot what the R.T. stood for ...

+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 27, 2008
It hadn't even occurred to me that Dilbert has no mouth - does that make me special?
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 27, 2008
Some generalizing: "Dennis" is a name most often held by white men. "Dentist" is a job most often held by white men. So... what further explanation for the strong correlation is necessary? I think the "white men" connection is a lot stronger than the "sound alike" connection.
Aug 27, 2008
Who else here was surprised that Scott doesn't know what 'ironic' means?
Aug 26, 2008
Someone else has possibly mentioned this already, but there was a man in the Manhattan Projects who named one of his children Winner. Three years later he had another son, who he named Loser.

Loser won a scholarship to a prep school, and gradutated from Lafayette College, and is a successful Police Sergeant.

Winner has over 30 arrests for burglary and other misdemeanors.

And most of the things you mentioned aren't ironic, they're coincidental. Sorry to be a literary device nazi.
Aug 26, 2008
So murderers are literally "programmed to kill" then? I'm glad the court systems don't assume we're all just robots.
Aug 26, 2008
We seek meaning in our lives.
Therefore we ascribe meaning whereever we can.
Thus we attach significance to "coincidences" (of which "irony" is a subset).
It doesn't mean that they are true, nor does it mean that they are false. It's just our moist robot way of giving us a feeling of control, because we reason (if that's the word) that if we can understand something, we can control it.

Are we influenced by the small, subtle cues? Maybe. A few "coincidences" proves nothing.
Aug 26, 2008
The "Sitting There" strip got mailed out today. Pure comedy gold. Thank you Scott.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 26, 2008
Scott, I did some research. One thing you are talking about aptronyms, names that are "apt" for the people who have them:


Notable example is Chris Moneymaker (his real, given name) on the Poker Tour.
Aug 26, 2008
Hey Scott, I read in your Wikipedia entry that you appeared in an episode of NewsRadio in which Andy Dick played an obsessed Dilbert fan. Is that true?!
Aug 26, 2008
Jim Fixxes' father died of a heart attack at age 42, so Jim's (died at 52) book could have been called "How extend your life by 10 years".
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 26, 2008
Scott, just be glad you don't draw a comic featuring a eunuch!
Aug 26, 2008
Part of me thinks that with the sheer number of words you can associate with any profession, it shouldn't be all too surprising that some individuals in a given job would have a name that would correlate with one of these words or vice versa. Just another example of people only remembering those examples which agree with their preconceived notions.

Also, this phenomena was actually discussed in Freakonomics (the authors who also have another excellent blog) and it was concluded that the names we choose for our children are generally pretty poor indicators/influences in how they will turn out later in life. My favorite example was the father of the year nominee who named one of his sons Winner and another son Loser. Apparently this model of good parenting thought that naming his kid winner would guarantee his success in life and cruely decided to name the other one loser just to prove his point. As it turned out, years later when both had become adults Winner was serving jail time for some petty crime while Loser had become a police officer. Not surprisingly, Loser hasn't spoken to his brother or father for years, but at least he doesn't need to give any credit for his success to his family for giving him such a great start in life.
Aug 26, 2008
This is why, as a University of Louisville football fan, I am worried about this year's starting quarterback, whose name is Hunter Cantwell...

And, I am reminded of all those rappers who change their names to something extravagant and over the top. Surely calling yourself "Young Money" a few thousand times over the course of an album has a psychological impact...
Aug 26, 2008
And how about the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt.
Aug 26, 2008
About 15 years ago my father had a serious stroke and spent quite a few months in hospital. During his stay we noticed a number of cases of "nominative determinism", as New Scientist used to call it:

- his doctor was called Dr. Gore
- the local vicar was Rev. Thorogood
- one of the nurses was Nurse Wellfare
- the dinner lady was Mrs Nurrish
- one of the patients in the bed opposite was Mr Ayling

It felt like we were part of some surreal board game like Cluedo...
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 26, 2008
...and Bill Gates is a Billionaire!
In my field of Architecture, I do notice a lot of names beginning with "A-", "Ar-" or even "Arch-". (Archie, Arthur, Arnaldo, Arturo, Alex, Alfred, Aldo, Antonio...) Architect Archimedes is just plain creepy.
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