Reader Request Week 2015 #5: A Boy Named John

Peter asks:

Hi there! I’d like to hear your thoughts about the name “John”. It’s one of the most common names in the English-speaking world. It’s also your name. Do you like being named John? If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?

“John” is indeed a very common male name in the English world, as are its various cognates in other languages (Ian, Sean, Juan, Ivan, etc), but in English at least, its stock has come down in quite a bit in recent years — once a perennial Top Ten name, last year “John” was merely the 55th most popular name in the US (according to this baby name site), wedged between “Julian” and “Colton.”  At this point, if you hear someone’s named John, you might reasonably surmise he’s likely over 25, which of course in my case is perfectly correct.

I like being named “John” just fine, but I’ll also note that almost no one calls me by the name. In most social situations I am almost always and exclusively called “Scalzi” and have been since I was child, not by family (my family nickname was “John-John” to distinguish me from other Johns in the family, including my father) but by just about everyone else. Indeed, I am often referred to by “Scalzi” even when everyone else is referred to by first name (“I had dinner with Bob, Ted, Cyndi and Scalzi”).

One reason is practical: I’m usually the only Scalzi in most contexts, so referring to me by that name is useful for identification, particularly when there’s another John in the social mix, who is then often referred to by his first name. Another reason, I suspect, is that “Scalzi” is more fun to say than “John.” Go ahead, try it. A third reason is that I lucked into the name as branding — there are other Scalzis in the English-speaking world, but none so prominent as I; check Google on this for confirmation (or Bing, if you like, you deviant). There are other Scalzis, and there are even other John Scalzis, but in terms of to whom the name refers in our culture, I am the Scalzi. And that’s pretty cool. Might as well call me that name; it’s me.

Whereas I will never be the John, no matter how hard I try. There are several saints at the head of the line, and then a few kings and presidents, other world historical figures and then the long long line of celebrities who share the name. Even fictional Johns have more notability than I; I will never ever be more famous than John McClane, for example. I’m not necessarily even the first John people think of when it comes to science fiction: There are the Johns Varley, Wyndham, Christopher and Ringo which come to me right off the top of head, and many others I could name if I thought about it more, and of course there’s John W. Campbell, who as an editor largely defined what we think of as the “Golden Age” of science fiction.

Which is neither here nor there as to whether I like the name “John,” mind you. I do; it’s nice and comfortable and it’s me — I will answer to it, when it’s used (which is rarely) and it’s meant to refer to me in context (slightly more rarely). I just recognize that a very common name means that you share it with a wide number of people. “John” is me, but it’s not only me, and it will never be primarily me, when people think of the name, in the way “Scalzi” is.

As for what I would change my name to, well, as noted above, there’s already a name for me that, culturally speaking, I kind of own, and which is what most people actually use to refer to me, so changing my first name would not only be unnecessary, there’s also a real question of whether anyone would actually notice. But if I had to change it, and I would have to exclude “Jon” from the list of names I could change it to (technically “Jon” and “John” are different names), I’d probably go with “Michael,” which is my middle name and thus one comfortably already allied with my identity. And it’s about as common as “John,” which solves no problems, as far as names go. Fortunately, “Scalzi” is still available to me for identification purposes.

(There’s still time to ask questions for 2015’s Reader Request Week — get your requests in here.)

71 Comments on “Reader Request Week 2015 #5: A Boy Named John”

  1. What does your wife call you? That’s normally a pretty good indication of how well an alternative name has stuck.

  2. You lucky bastard. My parents named me B (no period) (no it doesn’t stand for anything) (no it’s not an initial) (yes it’s my entire first name) (it was 1968, they were probably on drugs). My middle name is Jeremy and I’ve always been called BJ, which was…challenging in middle school as it’s a common nickname for a certain sex act.

    If there’s a bright side it’s that, like you, it makes me unique in social situations. Pre-caller ID I never had to explain who was calling when someone picked up the phone.

  3. jamtur01:

    In the house we tend toward common endearments, which for these purposes is not useful. However, she does have a tendency to call me “John” rather than “Scalzi.” Note she took my name on marriage, so it’s a different dynamic.

  4. Michael? Really?

    I’m a John, and if I could change my name with impunity, I’d totally go with “Captain Vladimir Armageddon Thunderpenis The Third”.

  5. When I was in high school, I counted 36 “Davids” in the yearbook, two of whom (three, including me) were in my immediate group of friends. If I heard someone shout, “Hey Dave!” in the hall, it was more than likely they weren’t calling me, so I got used to ignoring it and answering to “Branson” instead. It started in second grade when there were three of us on the soccer team. Even now, there are three of us in my department at work. Usually, the one who’s been there the longest is called “Dave,” I’m “D2,” and the newest guy is “D3.”

  6. When my son was born the first and only choice was John. It was his grandfather’s name and while they never met, they share so many personality traits. Now that we know the person he is, no other name fits.

    Of course, there are eleventy-billion Johns on his mother’s side of the family and the variations are all used. Context clues are important or conversations can get confusing.

  7. I share my middle name, Rebecca, with my deceased great-grandmother. My parents picked my first name out of thin air, because they liked it, and because they were trying to pick something not terribly common. I was born in 1972. I spent my entire school career learning that, if someone called out “Jennifer!” in the hallways, 90 percent of the time they *weren’t* talking to me.


  8. Dave Branson:

    There were four or five Daniels in my college dorm, so when my friend Daniel Mainz arrived the same year I did, the upperclassmen in the dorm told him that his new name was “Darnell,” after Darnell Coles, who played for the Tigers (Daniel Mainz was from the Detroit area). He was introduced to all the other new students as “Darnell” and it was several weeks, I think, before any of us knew that wasn’t his actual name. By which time it was too late, he was “Darnell.” Even now you can tell who want to college with him and who didn’t by who calls him Darnell and who doesn’t.

  9. Not just English, but the various names in other languages… Ewan, Evan, Ian, Ivan, Jean, Hans, Giovanni, Juan…..
    I remember walking out of the train station at Piazza Garibaldi in Naples, Italy in 1978, hearing “Hey, Joe!” and looking around to see who was calling me. Come to find out that’s the name all the street vendors use to pull in customers. By looking around, my friends told me that I marked myself as a potential customer. My father drilled into me that calling a person by their last name is not respectful, unless you prefix that with something like “Mister”, “Miss”, etc. Even when I was in the Navy, I hated being called by my last name, and when I became a more senior enlisted person, I addressed my subordinates with their rate and last name, such as “Seaman Smith” or “Petty Officer Jones”. Maybe it’s not a big deal to other people, but it was to me, and one more way of being nicer to people. After all, you can get better results with a kind word…..

  10. Also, “Damn you, Scalzi!” and “Rats, foiled by Scalzi again!” and such sound much better than the same w/John.

  11. One time at a company I worked for, there were 6 Johns. They were all called by their last name (Neuschaefer, Brosnahan, Jepworth, etc…) for obvious reasons, especially since it wasn’t unusual to have more than 1 in a room at any time. I was married to one of them, and even at home I called him by his last name….

  12. Twenty girls in my grade school class and eight of us were named Patricia or some variant. I hated those variants, never really stuck with any of them, and now go by my full name. I don’t take note of people calling my name unless they use the entire thing. It is also a great screening for telemarketers since the few who use the entire name rarely pronounce it correctly (I wouldn’t have thought it was difficult, but when it goes out to 5 and 6 syllables, I know it isn’t anyone who I need to speak with).

  13. I find the just-the-surname convention a little too public-schoolboy (and it is always boy, girls get “Miss” in public school) for my tastes, and anyway I feel hardly any attachment to my surname at all (I think only my bank ever address me using it). My birth-name is Helen, which I shared with rather too many other people in my class at school, if I were going to legally change it it would be to “Naath” which is entirely invented (coincidentally also invented by GRRM for an island; but in my case short for M’lisilinaath and independently invented) but much more “me”. In general these days I distinguish work-me and not-work-me by what name I use which is quite useful.

  14. When I was a senior in highschool, the nerderati in our AP english class decided our names were too passé. My friend Amy became Cordelia Garfunkel. I was Thessalonius H. Crabtree.

  15. Another David who’s lived the common-name thing. Back when I lived in NYC, there were at least two other people in my borough sharing my full three names. And my middle name is the same as Our Host’s, so that wouldn’t have been much better.

  16. I remember hearing Susan Stamberg on “All Things Considered” doing a story on her first name and how many Susans there were in her age group. She interviewed some Susans. One of them had been one of five or six Susans in her class at school. She hated having such a common name, so she had named her daughter Caitlin. This was in the mid-1980s, a time when every third or fourth girl baby seemed to be named Caitlin. I laughed and laughed.

  17. I’m frequently the only Rob in a group, but my freshman year in college there were two of us on the floor. Pretty quickly the consensus emerged that I would be “Rev” (my initials) and the other one would be “Bobby.”

    Also: I was an applied physics major, and there were six women in our class of thirty-five. Of those six, we had one Kathy, one Catherine, and one Kathleen.

    And ever since my grandmother passed away, there’s only one other person who’s gotten away with calling me “Robby.”

  18. Supposedly my first name (Jason) was extremely popular the year I was born, but I can’t recall a time when I’ve run into too many other Jasons. I think the most I’ve ever been in a group with was one other… I wouldn’t swear to there never having been a time with two, but I can’t recall one offhand.

    However, I, too, am blessed(?) with a unique last name: Ramboz. It’s pronounced like “Rambo” with a Z on the end (or as I’m fond of saying, like the plural of “Rambo:” one Rambo, two Ramboz). So ever since I was a kid, I tended to get called by my last name… or the rather obvious nickname.

    I think it used to rub me the wrong way, a little bit. Maybe I somehow feel “Jason” is more central to my identity than “Ramboz.” I never outright stopped anyone from calling me that, but it always felt a little… distant. Then, a few years ago, I had an epiphany where I realized that people just like to say it because it’s fun and unique, and that in a way they’re saying that those same qualities apply to me. So now I say call me by whichever name you like!

  19. Re: spousal usage.

    My wife calls me Hillsy exclusively. I am introduced as Hillsy to her friends. My step-family mainly only know me as Hillsy, and the few that do know my first name are told off by my wife if I’m referred to as Andrew.

    ….Which I prefer to be honest. I was never enamoured with my name

  20. So John Scalzi, John Varley, John Wyndham, John Christopher, and John Ringo walk into a bar.
    Scalzi gets to say what constituted their conversation with the bartender…

  21. Pamela has never been on the highly popular list. I go by Pam, which makes it easy to identify salespeople and politicians, as they use the full name.

  22. “Robert” was #1 for DECADES, but now it isn’t even on a list that includes Xander and Cooper. You’re not going to have the Bobs to kick around any more. My college advisor was actually named Cooper, but his FIRST name — Leon — is also not on the list.

  23. As a 50-something Bob, there are tons of men in my age group named Bob. When I was a kid, I was constantly wishing I had a more unusual name; meanwhile, my younger brother who had a very unique name was constantly wishing for something more common. So it was a case of “the grass is greener” syndrome.

    I also have a very common last name, so I never use either of my real names when waiting for a table at a restaurant. For a while I used “Fabio” as the resemblance is so striking. But then I changed to using the last name of the most recent World Cup hero. So I was Iniesta for several years until last summer, when I became Schweinsteiger. :)

  24. Shouldn’t you be referred to as ” The Scalzi” at least until you are supplanted by your progeny take a the title from you?

  25. My name Rajesh (or Raj) is unusual in the UK where I live. However, when I visit India or confer with colleagues there I need to clarify who I am using my surname. It’s strange going from a situation where my name is fairly unique to one where it is the virtual equivalent of John Smith.

  26. Even I sometimes run into the need to differentiate between me and other people named “Eric.” In circumstances like that, I encourage the use of my handle “Erbo.” It’s derived directly from my first and last names, it’s easy to pronounce (UR-boh), and, while there may be many “Erics” in the room, there is only one “Erbo.” (Cue the Highlander music…)

  27. On the “known by surname” front, it was interesting to work in a shipyard, where people “knew” you by the name that was lettered on your hardhat. Sometimes you’d be called by your surname, but often you got to be known by some variant thereon. I became “Van”, from my Dutch derived surname. Anyone named Rhodes was inevitably “Dusty”. Bill Woods was “Woodsy”, of course, and remarkably, a fellow whose surname was Savage became “Doc”. Pretty literate crowd in the shipyard!

  28. My freshman year in High School, I joined the chorus -> 10 men, 2 of whom shared a variation of my name, albeit misspelled. That’s the year I went from Sean to Goober, at least in that class.

    (Nickname wasn’t sticky, thank goodness.)

  29. Hmm, the first science fiction “other” John I thought of was Brunner.

  30. “I spent my entire school career learning that, if someone called out “Jennifer!” in the hallways, 90 percent of the time they *weren’t* talking to me.”

    Seconding this. I was one of seven in an entire classroom of 30-whatever once, and one of fourteen in my high school class. If I ever changed any part of my name, it would be my FIRST name. At least in the “adult world” I haven’t worked with too many other Jennifers to confuse people. Though at my volunteer job, I refuse to answer the phone with “Jennifer speaking” because that helps clarify things for NO one and the other Jennifers are managers.

    I don’t normally get called by my last name (I don’t think this happens to women as much), but I ran into someone last week that yelled it out. I spent several hours trying to recall where the hell I knew her from–hours later I clued in that she is the only other person I’ve met (besides my parents) who has my last name! D’oh!

    I like this user question because I have always thought that John is the most generic name of all time. (And really, if you look at baby name stats…) I attempted to start a trope on TV Tropes about how any character named John is referred to by his last name, but it got vetoed or whatever over there. I still think I’m right about it though, for the reasons Scalzi (hah) mentions.

  31. My full real name (not this nom de web) is a combination of not-very-common elements, of south English, far north English, and Scotch derivation.

    For the longest time, my first/last was unique on the Internet, though now the other 2 Americans and half-dozen Brits have a total of 15 entries when I do a vanity search. One of them even has a Twitter handle but has only tweeted for a couple days; on the web, I’m THE [me].

    Sadly, I can no longer use my real name for casual web socializing, because I got crosswise with a creepy religion who thinks I’m an enemy. Even after a decade of not posting anything about them and otherwise ignoring them, people who get publicly linked to me (usually professionally) get strange “friend” requests or other contacts. Somebody obviously has to keep my dossier up to date.

    Add in my middle name and I’m almost certainly globally unique, no other [me] even seems to share my middle initial.

  32. When I was in college I had a friend named James, who introduced himself as James and would most assiduously correct anyone who called him Jim, which happened fairly frequently when he met new people.

    After a couple of years an old friend of his from his hometown was visiting who called him Jim, which puzzled us. Then we learned that he had always been called Jim by his friends and family and it was only when he got to college, where no one knew him, that he was able to insist that everyone call him James.

  33. For most of my life, Abigail was a fairly uncommon name (even more so in Israel than in the US, I think). To the extent that when I met another Abigail it was a notable occurrence (and they were usually a lot older than I was). In the last half-decade, though, it’s come into fashion, which doesn’t make much of a difference in my day-to-day life – the new Abigails are in preschool at the latest so apart from the occasional “my daughter’s name is Abigail!” we don’t have much to do with each other – but does affect things like TV shows or books, where adult characters named Abigail have become much more common. Without fail, I have this kneejerk “but I’m Abigail!” reaction to these characters that is very hard to shake off. Happily, in the US, there’s the habit of shortening Abigail to Abby, which cuts down on the cognitive dissonance a little.

  34. I started calling you Scalzi (as I happen to refer to people I respect by last name in most situations) and I’ve noticed that many others who know your books do the same. I guess it just feels natural to a lot of us!

  35. I’m fond of both my first and last names, the latter which is shared by only 60 people world-wide, but Laura was definitely a generational name. I even shared first and middle names with a good friend while in school. When I started teaching, I noticed the wave of Jennifers arrive and then subside. In a class of 23 to 26 college kids during the mid to late 80’s, there would always be two or more Jennifers. My daughter seems to be part of her generation’s Jennifer equivalent, Brianna.
    But Laura is such a great name. I’d never change it. It seems to be full of smarts and mystery in my mind. Thanks Mom and Dad. (If I’d been a boy, I would have been George. Thank God I was a girl! No offense, people named George, but that would not have been me for sure).

  36. I must assume it’s not called “going to the John” at your house. Whenever I call the potty the John, my friend Johnny says, “At my house, we call it the Greg.”

  37. Jonathan vos Post wrote:
    “So John Scalzi, John Varley, John Wyndham, John Christopher, and John Ringo walk into a bar.
    Scalzi gets to say what constituted their conversation with the bartender…”

    The bartender obviously answers:

    “John Bigbooty is in the corner booth”.

    Followed by:

    ‘Boote. Boo-Tay!’, from the corner booth.

  38. @JVP; damn, you made me chuckle! 4 Apple martinis and 1 macho Manhattan for our erstwhile colleague..

  39. I’m a Rebecca, and actually offline, I go by ‘Rebecca’ to colleagues and Becky to close IRL friends* and family. Becca (or Stareyes) is an internet affectation.

    One nice thing was that because I insisted on Rebecca in school while most of my peers insisted on Becky was that I stood out even when one had a few Rebeccas around. The same thing happened to my sister, who was Jennifer for a short time, but then started insisting on Jenn (note the second n), and refused to answer to Jenny.

    (Actually, that makes me reflect on Mira Grant’s books. You actually do get characters who need to come up with nicknames because they have common names. There’s a few characters (not just our protagonist) who have versions of George as their name, but the author is careful to make it clear that Georgia who goes by ‘George’ is not the same as Georgette who goes by ‘Buffy’.)

    * Basically, if you are close enough to hear people calling me Becky and pick it up. My high school friends realized my parents called me that, and they taught my college friends, and they taught my Internet friends.

  40. Back at my first job, your computer login was your first initial and last name. Maybe a middle initial. That did fine till they simultaneously hired two guys named Daniel E. Jones. They had to go by DE1JONES and DE2JONES. We called ’em “One” and “Two” in conversation, of course, but Daniel to their faces. There were a limited number of characters available, so it was just lucky they had a short last name.

    I knew a lot of girls named Lori/Lorie/Lauri/Laurie in school. Also Lisa and Susan. And enough Marks we had to nickname them all. Jock Mark, Theater Mark, Stoner Mark, Brain Mark…

    I was always the only one with my first name (it’s uncommon but not unheard of), so I’ve always just gone by it.

  41. My first name (Aryeh, Ari is the nickname that everyone but my dad uses) is rare in most contexts, so it stands out. That said, I spent a year in yeshiva before college, where I was one of six Aris in a program of seventy students. People just used my last name, or a nickname.

  42. Jennifer – My sister went to Kindergarden in the 70s with Jennifer, Jennifer, Jen, Jenny, J, and Megan. Megan was Jennifer Megan and has gone by Megan ever since.

  43. I always wished I had a more common first name, actually. “Isabel”…I like it fine now, but when I was ten, fleh. You could never find it on mugs/bike license plates/any of the “cool” personalized stuff, plus nobody spelled it right, plus it didn’t end with an “i” or a “y”.* Would have killed to be “Staci” or “Vicki,” even if I was the fifth one in my class.

    On the other hand, as I must note whenever naming is brought up, my father wanted to name me “Bathsheba,” and only my grandmother’s intervention prevented him. So I grew up always aware that it could have been far worse.

    *I know, right? But I was totally that girl at ten, or at least had aspirations That Girlward. There’s a not-too-far-off parallel universe where I became a cheerleader and never looked back.

  44. I am quite fond of my name, but I still sometime pine for a name that is easy to pronounce (I get lots of “Breanna? Brienne? Brenda?”). In third grade, I changed my name to Jennifer for an entire year, but now I can appreciate having a rarer name.

  45. Back in my small-town reporting days (the late 70s), I was interviewing a retiring school superintendent whose first name was Jason, Other than Jason Robards, there wasn’t anyone he knew of in his generation with his name. This was about the time Jason was a very popular name among school-age boys. He said it was a bit strange having a common name after so many years, but he kind of liked it.

  46. Also, the Apostle Bartholomew went by his last name. Considering that most saints go by their given names, it reminds me of high school, in a way. Not as odd as “St. Horschack,” but still odd.

  47. Thank you for picking my topic, John! (Or, should I say, Scalzi!)

    I agree — “Scalzi” is more fun to say than “John”. For example, “THE HEAD OF JOHN DEMANDS BLOOD” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

  48. This might be better suited to the Reader Request thread, but I am adding it here as well: Speaking of your relations with the Republican party, would you be willing to write “Grand Old Party” in every instance where you use “GOP” in a blog entry about politics? Why or why not?

  49. I work with a fellow named John Smith. I sometimes wonder whether he is in the witness protection program – it just sounds like an alias, doesn’t it? – or whether his parents were enamored of pilgrims.

    Yesterday, as a work-related meeting was getting ready to start, a woman sought more out and introduced herself as John’s significant other. I glanced at her badge, and saw that her name is Mary…

    I’m leaning towards witness protection…

  50. Dear John,

    Purely a question of manners– in personal conversation, do you prefer to be called “John,”, “Scalzi,” or truly have no preference?

    I call you John because that’s how I talk to friends– the last-name thing has a faint off-putting feeling for me. But more importantly, I’d rather address people as they like to be addressed. Several of my friends are called by their last names because they prefer that.

    pax / whatshisface

  51. Ctein:

    Honestly have no preference. Friends use either, depending on personal preference. When we’re talking, if you prefer to use “John” that’s groovy by me.

  52. Being named Hugh, I never had a problem with the common name thing. I only very rarely run across another person named Hugh in my daily life. Growing up, I did get some amusement associating my name with that of a certain Mr. Hefner.

    I had more problems with people pronouncing it “you” (as in “Hey You!”), or insisting on spelling it Hue.

  53. I’m a Megan. That’s a short “e”, like in “egg”, not the long “eeeee” Australians tend to sneer it out as (can you tell I was bullied as a kid?), or even the “ay” that other people try to put in there. These days, among friends, I go by Meg (which is much less likely to be mispronounced). (My family still calls me Megan-with-a-long-ee-sound).

  54. We named my younger son Ian to avoid using John while still naming him after his grandfather John.

  55. My middle name is Charlie (not short for anything). The combination got me misgendered a few times. I used to think if I had a son I’d name him Robin Charlie Jr, as preemptive comeuppance for whatever teenager annoyance he’d do. But I’d call him Bob for short, because my godmother’s name is Bob and he’s awesome. (Not likely to have kids now.)

    In junior high I was in a special program with another kid named Robin, a boy. In addition to having nearly identical schedules for the first two years out of three (and having last names that were close alphabetically so we were often seated near each other), my locker was also above his, so we were always at the same place at the same time. By the third year I just stopped answering to my name entirely.

    My sister is in a Deaf congregation and her friends decided I needed a sign name. Because I have so many cats they decided on R+whiskers. I should change my fictitious last name here to that. (“KIttykin” is what I call the family of five cats that brought us up to thirteen from eight. It recently occurred to me that it might be read as membership in a subgroup/fandom with which I am not in fact involved.)

  56. My name is extremely common, both as a full name (you can’t throw a brick without hitting half-a-dozen ‘Chris Hills’) and a first name for people around my age and a few years younger. I once worked in a department of 13 people, four of whom were ‘Chris’ (3 men, 1 woman). Oddly enough I was the only one who was called ‘Chris’. The others were ‘Smurph’ (‘cos her name was Chris Murphy) and ‘Coops’ & ‘Edgy’ for the other two (after their surnames, Cooper and Edge respectively.)

    But I actually like my name, it fits very comfortably with me (though not ‘Christopher’ – I’m only that if I’m in trouble!)

  57. As this seems the best place to share it…

    My Dad has an Uncle Bob, so called by everyone but his wife who when first introduced to him decided Bob was too common and has always used Robert. It wasn’t until they started getting serious about each other she learned his name was actually Frank, and had gained the nickname Bob as he used to bob up and down in his cot as a baby.

    @Chris Hill – I have an aunt/uncle and a set of married friends who are both Christopher and Christine but just referred to as Chris…

    Growing up I was the only Simon I knew, then there were four of us on my College course when we all just added the initial so I’ve been SimonB to many people ever since.

  58. I was also thinking about the calling people by their last name thing. For about 3 years I was working closely with the US branch of my company (I live in the UK) and it took me ages to get used to the fact that when my line manager (in Cedar Rapids) referred to people by their surname she wasn’t angry with them, or being rude! Our US folks had a very different approach to salutations and sign-offs on emails (UK: almost always have a ‘Hi Chris’ or ‘Dear Chris’ or whatever at the top and a ‘best wishes’ or ‘regards’ or ‘many thanks’ at the bottom. Our US colleagues didn’t, which to our ears sounded very terse.) I’ve no idea if this is a cultural thing or just my company!

    @theoriginalsimonb Oddly while I was at school we had loads of ‘Simons’ – again it seems to be common in my generation in the UK

  59. The Social Security Administration has a fairly fun/useful tool for charting the popularity of a name, which says that John was #26 for boys in 2014. It only shows data for a name if it cracked the top 1000 for that year. Here’s the link:

  60. @Scalzi, how do you pronounce “Scalzi”? I assumed the “al” was like in “Alfred”, but I recall being a bit surprised to hear audio of it some time with the “al” pronounced “awe”.

    Since everyone is sharing: my first name is Mark. In my life of ~45 years so far, there has been one single period of about 2-3 years where there wasn’t at least one other Mark in my social and/or work group; it has sometimes been a minor annoyance. Online, I like to ‘own’ my surname, which is probably only shared by maybe 100 or so people in this country, and maybe 2-300 worldwide :)

  61. I just refer to you as “The Dude”. For some reason I picture you wandering around aimlessly in a dirty bathrobe.

    Or was that “The Jerk”?

  62. In an old novel – ‘Macroscope’ – Piers Anthony listed all the variants of the name ‘John’. Read that one ages ago, between dinosaur hunts…

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