ATOV: “Nominative Determinism” and aptronym/aptonym

I just saw on Reddit that Amelia Earhart did an AMA.  No, it wasn’t a parody, it was a real woman named Amelia Earhart who just so happens to be an aviatrix.

As is often the case, some of the comments in this Reddit post took me on a tangent.  Particularly, user “stretchpharmstrong”‘s comment reminding me of nominative determinism struck my eye.  I forgot about this idea, because I forgot the phrase.

Aptronym/aptonym/euonym are all synonyms for this idea.

If I remember a phrase/word of an idea, I can remember the idea.  And the only way to remember phrases/words for me is to repeat them.  So I suggest it will be ATOV (added to our vocabulary).

Nominative determinism is the idea that your name (nom being the Greek/Latin root for the English word name) has an effect on what you do with your life.

Someone in the same Amelia Earhart AMA explained nominative determinism as “Why people named ‘Dennis’ are proportionally more likely than their peers to become Dentists.”   Well, apparently this isn’t true, but it is nonetheless a good example of the idea.

As far as other examples go, Buzzfeed has an excellent collection of people who were potentially nominatively determined.  Wikipedia’s page on aptronyms has an exceptionally lengthy list of examples (Apparently Doug Bowser is the current VP of Sales at Nintendo).  Guy-Sports also has a solid list, as well as other linguistic items of interest.

As for our modern day Amelia Earhart?  A Redditor asked her if she thought her name influenced her life.  She responded:

“100% yes. I am SO lucky my parents gave me this name. I used to hate it but honestly, it has set me on this course of incredible adventure and aviation opportunity. That’s why I run my foundation- to help girls that want to fly get the same chances I get.”


James Michener

James Michener’s The Source tells the story, in typical Michener fashion, of a geographic location and the humans living in that area for generations.  And it changed the way I see history.

Michener writes about a specific community, maybe a couple generations, and then moves on a couple hundred years.  But each community is relationally and geographically tied to the past.  The buildings remnants remain, the social structures are built on the foundation of the ancestors, and the people progress, yet still repeating the same conflicts.

Before reading the book, I didn’t really think about people 1000 years ago being hungry.  Or being shy around people they’re attracted to.  Or having arguments with their parents.  Or, really, just living.  I imagined them as objects existing in the past, somehow contributing to us now, but not in any agentitive way.  Sure, I knew their choices mattered to them back then and us now, but I never thought about them making those choices.  They were just characters in a book that has one ending.

Today, I was reminded of how much my view of history was changed when I read an article on Medium, “Close at Hand”.  Writer Diana Kimball discusses the history of what we have put in our pockets, specifically the technology we have placed there.   It was fascinating how much we can tell about people based on what we place and keep in our pockets.  Knowing what people in history had in their pockets made them real.

Far more so, though, was the article’s last line: “We want to start fires and listen to a thousand songs.”  From flint and steel to iPods, our desires are still the same.  We are the same people as our ancestors, just generations apart.

Life Skill 1: Fast Typing

Learn to type fast.  Think about how much of our lives are spent in front of a device that uses a QWERTY keyboard.  Think how much time you would save if you could type faster.

I learned to type because my grandparents said they’d buy me a laptop if I got good at it.  Both of my parents are fast typists, my maternal grandmother was a very fast typewriter typist, but when I was in grade school, I was pretty slow.  I just couldn’t memorize the letters.  I tried learning on my own, because my family’s computer had some kind of Mavis Beacon demo on it, but I was not disciplined enough.

Then came middle school, when we were allowed to take a rotation of life skills classes.  I forgot what it was called, but we had a quadmester (definitely not what they called it) of cooking/baking, sewing, typing, and shop.  I enjoyed all of it, but typing was my favorite.  I was fast after seventh grade, and a lot of rounds of Typer Shark, but I was even faster after I took a similar class in eighth grade.  I was the fastest typist in the school.  All of the AIM chatting helped, too.

This was a pretty fascinating visualization of why the touch typing system is so efficient.  But still, I’m considering learning the Dvorak keyboard.  I don’t know if it would be worth it, considering I can type accurately at 100 WPM, but maybe.

Far more interesting than sheer speed, I love how becoming proficient at typinghas allowed me to harldy think about it at all.  It must be nearly as natural to my mind as writing with a pen/pencil.  I can just close my eyes, as I’m doing now, and write.  My fingers know when to hit the backspace, if ever, and I can just form the sentences, mold them with my hands and my mind.  IT is incredibly satisfying writing with the screen off.  I write journals every night reflecting on the day.  Sometimes I will set a timer, let’s say for 10 minutes, and close my eyes and just type until the timer goes off.  So relaxing.

Something else I like about it is hearing the noise a steady typing rhythm makes.  It almost sounds like rain.

Apparently touch typing was invented in 1888.  


What else in nature is there like this?

I found it in my bookmarks to write this post.  Mesmerizing in its complexity, but so simple we hardly notice.

I looked through my bookmarks, searched for other herds/packs of animals, then thought, hey, this is kind of similar.  It’s mesmerizing in its complexity.  But the Northern Lights are not something we hardly notice.

That timelapse, though, did get me on the tangential trail of slow motion videos.  And I eventually came across this:

Whether they are people on the streets as we drive past, people on the ground when we fly past, or people on the train when we ride past, the scene is mesmerizing in its complexity, but so simple we hardly notice.  I remember the first road trip my family took where instead of playing on my Gameboy or other device, I just stared out the window at all of the people and things.  For hours.

The creator of the video wrote about the process of making it here.

More bird murmuration.

Small Worlds: Homemade Liqueurs

Did you know how much cheaper it is to make your own liqueurs?  More importantly, did you know how easy it is and how much more delicious it is?  Yeah, me neither.  I never gave it much thought.  It was one of those small worlds of deep interest.

I found this four years ago.  It is a treasure trove of recipes, science, and techniques.  It’s Web 1.0 interface only adds to it’s useability.  I especially recommend the Kahlua recipe.  Far better than storebought, and far cheaper.

I’ll update this as I research more sites dedicated to this, as I did with the potato chip blogs.  I’ll also add a picture of my nocino, currently on its fourth year of aging.

Small Worlds: Chipweb and the World of Chip Blogs

I love stumbling across entire little worlds dedicated to something I barely have ever thought about.  Here’s one: ChipWeb: For the Love of Chips.  A blog dedicated to potato chips.

A typical post will feature a picture of the specific chips in question (almost always a picture of the bag rather than the actual chips) and then a commentary: summary and critique.

A particularly interesting post was from 2008’s September: Remember the Classics.  The author, Donnie, laments the chip industries ever interest in creating the next new taste in the world of chips.  Donnie advises us to remember the veterans, to ground us in the stalwarts of the potato slices, to pay our respects to the crispy classics.  Here is his post in entirety:

It seems that there is an ongoing challenge in the chip industry to keep creating the newest shape and/or flavor of chip. There are chips in the shape of beans, 3D chips, sticks, fries, nuggets, spirals…chips made from rice, potatoes, corn, whole wheat…flavors such as wing, blue cheese, burger, hot dog, seafood, and vegetables. I am not complaining but I can sometimes get overwhelmed when deciding between a chip with flax seeds or a BBQ flavored air-popped chip or even a Dorito that has ranch on one side and wing flavoring on the other. Sometimes I forget that there are so many amazing chips out there already that I know to be good and they should not be overlooked. Here is a list of chips that I consider classic and that I will always enjoy.

Lays Sour Cream and Onion
Lays BBQ
Ruffles Sour Cream and Onion
Ruffles Sour Cream and Cheddar
Doritos Cool Ranch
Doritos Nacho Cheese
SunChips Harvest Cheddar
SunChips French Onion
Kettle Chips or Zapps (any flavor)
Frito’s Chili Cheese
Frito’s BBQ
Hot Fries
Shoestring Fries

Post History

Unfortunately, the love of chips is dead.1

imageYes, verily, there is no joy in Chipville.  And the world is that much of a sadder place.

Do not fear, dear reader, “somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright” and the world of chips is being deftly reported upon by fellow chip critics.  On this very day there is a new post on ChipReview, detailing and critiquing Manomasa’s Green Lemon & Pink Peppercorn Tortilla Chips.  That’s definitely not on the list of chip classics.

Although Donnie and his Chipville brethren might be turning in their blogging graves due to this yet another challenger to the classic chips, surely they will be happy to see that the blogging world of chips is alive and healthy.  From just a brief search, I’ve found the following:

As we celebrate the living, so must we also remember the fallen.  Here are still visible, but no longer updated chip blogs:

And then there are the notable dilettantes:

  • Sur La Table, the kitchen supply store for home chefs who don’t live nearby a vastly cheaper restaurant supply store, has a blog, and they just recently reviewed potato chips.  Pretty impressive comprehensiveness.
  • Junk Food Guy does it all, being the internet’s “daily snack of junk food, pop culture, & awkwardness.”

    If you find any additions, please let me know.

As a sidenote, one project I’d like to do on this website is to curate a list of blogs and personal websites that have stood the test of time.  I am particularly thinking of blogs that have never become popular, blogs that the writer just continues to populate with posts for a reason perhaps other than popularity.

  1.  The stories that these graphs tell of blogs are fascinating.  What happened in 2008 that made the authors decide to post so much about chips?  Was someone going through a divorce or a round of funemployment?  Were they preparing for the high school reunion of their fellow chip afichipionados?

Carnegie Month: P1C1Pr3 “Arouse in the other person an eager want”

Upon reading this part of the chapter, I thought of FOMO (fear of missing out).  I first heard of it from either This American Life or StartUp.  The StartUp podcast was more memorable: part of persuading a person is instilling in them some FOMO, a terrifying fear that they will miss out on the next big thing.  In Alex’s case with StartUp, a podcast documenting his startup business, Alex learns that a big part of seeking investors is instilling this FOMO.

I think FOMO is to now what “eager want” was to Carnegie’s time.  It is certainly not the only “eager want”, but I think it is probably our most massive “eager want”.  Aziz Ansari talks about it in his routine at Madison Square Garden, talking about how the reason we say “maybe” to invitations is that we are afraid something better will come along.

So, how did I “arouse in the other person an eager want” today?  Well, I don’t think I really did.  I’ll work harder tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading this excellent blog article series on Elon Musk.

Carnegie Month: P1C1Pr2 “Give honest and sincere appreciation”

Carnegie writes, quoting Charles Schwab, to “be ‘hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.'”  Was I hearty and lavish today with my appreciation?  Not really.  I mostly spent the day alone, until my girlfriend got home from work.  I told her how her outfit looked good in the morning and how her body looked good in the evening.  I thanked her for small tasks and I thanked her for a gift she gave a while ago.  I didn’t interact with anyone else today in person.  I did talk with a friend from kindergarten via Facebook, but it was more an exchange of information.  Tomorrow I work a dinner shift at Chipotle and I will surely give my honest and sincere appreciation.

I’ve been wondering, who is Dale Carnegie?  Well, he was a fellow Missourian, a poor farmboy.  He does not seem to be related to the Carnegie steel businessman.  He worked his way through college earning a teaching degree, pursued itinerant lecturing, ended up in acting, and then became a motivational speaker.


Carnegie seems like the Tony Robbins of his day.  Neither have formal education in the social sciences, but both observe aspects of psychology and sociology deeply.  It is easy to dismiss either as salesmen trying to make money off of pseudoscience.  But there is a lot to be said for the content and the delivery of their insights.  This Reddit comment stuck with me.  On the Change My View subreddit, where people try to change the original posters’ minds about something, someone asked “CMV: I think Tony Robbins and all similar acts are total scams.”  Someone responded this:

Try to imagine yourself in Tony Robbins’ position.
Suppose you really do have some insights into the human experience. Insights you have gained from living your own life.
Obviously there is no guarantee these insights are applicable to all people – but you share them with a few people, and it seems to resonate. You tell more and more people, and you start to build up a following.
Some people are just coming from such a different place to you that what you are saying is totally meaningless to them. But there are still a group of people with whom your message does resonate, so you keep persisting.
You are critisized for some of your views. You agree that some of your views are not politically correct and might offend some people. So you try and water them down. Try and say what you should say, instead of how you really feel.
Suddenly people start turning off. You don’t seem to be affecting people anymore. You don’t get any more complains, but you also stop getting any compliments. The word is, you have nothing interesting to say.
So, in the end you decide to be true to yourself. You talk about how you really feel about things, and the passion seems to rub off on your audience.
You also learn to stop being hurt when someone critisizes your product. Because, you decide – it is impossible to please everybody.

I am unconcerned with the veracity of all that Tony Robbins, Dale Carnegie, or any self-help artist/businessmen write/speak. I find their insights intriguing and I choose to use them judiciously. These people, like politicians, observe human experience with fascinating perspective, and at least some of it will be useful to me.

Charisma: Russel Brand

For my Carnegie month, I should be giving honest and sincere appreciation today (principle 2).  I just came across this video, an interview with Russell Brand, via this Cracked article about people who are making the world a better place.  And I was just blown away by his charisma on the screen.  As Brand chastised the reporters for their mistaking his name, for their SNAFUing their manners, and for their heaping superficiality, I feel myself looking away from the screen, like a little boy looking away from his parents as he’s scolded.  Brand has charisma.

Cracked writer Felix Clay writes this on his charisma:

In this MSNBC interview with Brand on their morning show, the three hosts clearly thought they were embarking on a puff piece with a foolish guest, but the absolute spanking Brand dishes out, the way he humiliates them with a smile on his face and good nature in his voice, is stunning. By two and a half minutes into the interview, it’s clear that Brand is on another level, discussing the posthumous iconography of influential people like Gandhi, Jesus, and Malcolm X, while the morning show crew is still stuck in a realm where the color of his boots is fascinating. When they begin to discuss him like he’s not in the room and then get his name wrong, he treats them like children and explains why their entire careers are pointless.

What I Memorized Today: 1IX2015

“I shall pass this way but once.  Any good I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now.  Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

Apparently it’s not clear who really came up with this quote (or whatever the Quelle is for it), but it is commonly attributed to Stephen Grellet, a French-born American Quaker missionary.

I memorized it while frying chips as I opened up tortilla this morning at Chipotle.