Dan Hon (perfecting earlier work by Tom Taylor) trained an AI on the vast corpus of British place names, then set it loose. The results are amazing, illustrative of an uncannily human humor seemingly at work, something you'd never get from the standard syllable-randomizing place name generators of yore.
"There aren’t as many cocks as you’d think," he writes.
My favorites: Brotters Common, Boll of Binclestead, Farton Green Pear End, Weston Parpenham, Sutsy Compton, Stoke of Inch, Kinindworthorpe Marmile, Rastan-on-croan, Fuckley, Fapton, Waterwitherwell.
See also Hon's AI trained to generate Ask Metafilter post titles.
In 1987 or so, the Welsh island of Anglesey, legendary redoubt of the druids, hosted a similarly legendary gathering to which only people with fish-themed surnames were invited. In Fish Story, Charlie Lynn (with the help of one Caspar Salmon) sets out to unravel "the truth behind a fishy tale." Read the rest
When I was a youngster, during the golden age of prank calls before caller ID, my friend and I found the name Zerba Zzyx at the end of the telephone book. We called Mr. Zzyx and asked if he realized he was the last name in the telephone book. Much to our surprise, he pleasantly told us that yes, he was aware of that fact, and hung up. (It wasn't one of our proudest prank call moments.)
Anyway, I hadn't thought about Mr. Zzyx for many years until I just saw this post on Weird Universe about "Zzyzx Road," just outside of Baker, California. Here's the origin of the road's name:
Entrepreneur Curtis Springer decided he wanted to be the last name in the directory, so when he opened a health spa at a natural springs in the Mojave Desert he called it Zzyzx Springs, so he could promote it as "the last word in health." By 1965 he had convinced the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to rename the road running to the springs Zzyzx Road. (It used to be Soda Road)...
Several movies have been named after Zzyzx Road, including the record-holder for the lowest-grossing Hollywood movie ever.
Sufficiently curious about any connection between Zzyzx Road and the Zerba Zzyx who I telephonically encountered in the 1970s, I did a Google search found this 1981 article from the Associated Press:
(Cincinnati) Roger Obermeyer wanted a way to make his name noticed in the city telephone book, so the advertising executive has himself listed as Zerba Zzyx, the last name in the directory. Read the rest
Dr. Richard (Dick) Chopp is well known in the Austin community for performing Vasectomies. He also enjoys treating patients with metabolic evolution of kidney stone disease, male endocrine urology disorders, prostate disease and Peyronie's disease. He has extensive laparoscopy surgery experience, is on the transplant team and performs Living Donor Nephrectomy.
Rod. His name is actually Rod. Read the rest
Kim-Jong Sexy Glorious Beast Divine Dick Father Lovely Iron Man Even Unique Poh Un Winn Charlie Ghora Khaos Mehan Hansa Kimmy Humbero Uno Master Over Dance Shake Bouti Bepop Rocksteady Shredder Kung Ulf Road House Gilgamesh Flap Guy Theo Arse Hole Im Yoda Funky Boy Slam Duck Chuck Jorma Jukka Pekka Ryan Super Air Ooy Rusell Salvador Alfons Molgan Akta Papa Long Nameh Ek is believed to have the world's longest name.
At 63 words long, Mr. Ek's is at least the longest in Sweden, where the law provides an option to change one's name once free of charge. Any further changes are $149, reports The Local. Ek has changed his six times, making it longer on each occasion, and there is no official limit.
"My parents were a little confused the first time a letter came addressed to Usama-Bin Ek instead of Alexander," he told news site Nyheter24. "I don't always get my mail and sometimes the electricity bill is late, but that's part of the charm."
Ek says he goes by "Papah Long Nameh" day to day. He was born Alexander Ek. He released the above photo montage to the press, featuring his official grant of a personal name and a selfie featuring himself in a bathtub full of hot dog sausages. Read the rest
There is already a lichen — Caloplaca obamae — and a worm — Paragordius obamai — named after Barack Obama. Now he also has Obamadon gracilis, an ancient, extinct, carnivorous lizard.
You can read a full write-up on Obamadon at Carolyn Johnson's Science in Mind blog. It includes some behind-the-scenes detail on the amusing considerations one has to take into account when one decides to name a specimen after a sitting president just before an election.
But I also wanted to take this opportunity to point you towards Curious Taxonomy, a fantastic list of creatures great and small and the sometimes surprising celebrities they have been named after. In the list you'll find a dinosaur named for Ross Perot, a ridiculous number of animals and plants named after Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, and no fewer than three creatures named for Stephen Colbert.
And if you're noting that the selection of animals named in honor of Obama are not exactly the world's most flattering, never fear. Taxonomy is kind of bipartisan in its possibly-maybe-accidental insults. George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney have a trio of slime mold beetles. Read the rest