Names.

I hope that you enjoy reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where eleven of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Grannymar.. The ten other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, Padmum, Paul, Shackman, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

Grannymar who has brought this topic to the LBC today should be able to say a few things about how she got stuck with her monicker. To the best of my knowledge she is not a grand mother. Very intriguing is it not?

I have written three posts on this subject earlier and I don’t find it difficult to write again something new. The first one was way back in June 2008. It was followed by one in November 2010 and the last one was in November 2011 where I discovered that a rose has been named after me. I strongly recommend that my readers read all the three to see three completely different approaches to the topic. And to add to the list here is the fourth one!

Rosa-rugosa-Flower-Rubra

“Humanity at large is almost always drawn to the infantile comfort of having an external authority make all the decisions.”

~ Erich Fromm.

And among all the external authorities that one is forced to live with, one’s name having been chosen by someone else is the most cruel. One simply goes through a lifetime being called something that someone else thought most appropriate. How many people do you know who think that their names are most inappropriate? In India, every newspaper, every day, publishes a number of advertisements in the personal columns announcing the change of names as a prerequisite to officially getting the new name registered for all legal purposes.

“Until I was thirteen, I thought my name was SHUT UP.”

~ Joe Namath

On the other hand, one gets flattered when someone decides to name someone or something after oneself till something like this happens.

“I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: – ‘No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.’ ”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Popeye-the-cartoon

Some names simply live with us for ever and remind us of something or the other like Popeye The Sailor. Spinach and Popeye go together like bacon and eggs or chhole and bhature. So, someone with big forearms gets saddled with the name of Spinach if he objects to being called Popeye, or someone with big eyes gets to be called Popeye first and then naturally becomes Spinach if he is in English speaking circles or Palak if he is among us deshis.

But the perversity of the whole Popeye naming is that the association with iron content in spinach came about because Erich von Wolf, a German chemist, examined the amount of iron within spinach, among many other green vegetables. In recording his findings, von Wolf accidentally misplaced a decimal point when transcribing data from his notebook, changing the iron content in spinach by an order of magnitude. While there are actually only 3.5 milligrams of iron in a 100-gram serving of spinach, the accepted fact became 35 milligrams. To put this in perspective, if the calculation was correct each 100-gram serving would be like eating a small piece of a paper clip.

“Once this incorrect number was printed, spinach’s nutritional value became legendary. So when Popeye was created, studio ex–ecutives recommended he eat spinach for his strength, due to its vaunted health properties. Apparently Popeye helped increase
American consumption of spinach by a third!

(Source – Samuel Arbesman’s book: The Half-Life of Facts.)

Now, that is what I call obfuscation. Start with one topic and end up with a totally unrelated one. So, those of you so inclined may like to give me a new name to add to the very many that I am already saddled with.

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