October 11, 2005

Naming names

A little while back, Victor Steinbok wrote me with a link to the NNDB page of nicknames granted by George W. Bush -- "Ali" for Barbara Boxer, "Camarones" for Paul Cameron, "Corndog" for John Cornyn, and so on.  (You probably already know about "Turd Blossom" for Karl Rove.)  The main effect of the page is to depict POTUS as an aging adolescent, and that has some entertainment value, though you shouldn't let that image cause you to misunderestimate the man.

The NNDB site is an odd assortment of biographical information about roughly 15,000 people, from all over the world, both dead and alive, focusing on celebrity (even rather modest celebrity) and notoriety, and promising links between entries.  (Compare this with the roughly 100,000 entries in Who's Who in America: only in America, only living people, focusing on accomplishment, and linkless.)  Stanford psychology professor Phil Zimbardo gets in, probably because of the famous "prison experiment".  Joey Buttafuoco is in there, classified straightforwardly as a "criminal".  "Girls Gone Wild mastermind" Joe Francis (aka Joseph Francis) also gets in, with his occupation down as "business" and a five-item rap sheet (child pornography, drug trafficking, obscenity, racketeering, and rape).  A fair number of pornstars get in: at least one, Jeff Stryker, from the biggies of gay porn, and the Lindas include not only Blair, Ronstadt, Hamilton, Evangelista, Lavin, Evans, Lingle, Chavez, McCartney, Fiorentino, Gray, Tripp, Cardellini, Hunt, and Perry (notice the preponderance of actors and entertainers), but also Lovelace.

You will probably be pleased, then, to hear that not one of the Language Log bloggers is (yet) in the NDDB.  Yes, I checked, starting with myself, of course.  That's how I came across Phil Zimbardo, a companion in the Land of Zs.

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Posted by Arnold Zwicky at October 11, 2005 08:45 PM