Thursday, October 26, 2006
Posted by Alan Childress
An abashedly pseudoscientific census-based website, How Many of Me?, will tell you how many of the 299,968,595 people in the U.S. share your name. Compared to the 113 named Harry Potter and the 56 of Michael Frisch, there are only 34 Alan Childresses's, making me somewhat unique. If you click on the link, you'll get a provocative pop-up for a dating service. Focus groups apparently have already determined that pathetic narcissistic loners who'd find some emotional bonding in feeling like they are 'in' a group of people who share only an appellation (OurName.com, anyone? Copyright 2006 Alan Childress. All rights reserved) ought to get out more and date. "Hey, there are 66 other John Hinckleys, cool!" Or maybe you just hope to verify that you are The One, truly unique as opposed to my relative and ungrammatical uniqueness (though, oddly, I once lived down the street in Shreveport from one of the other 33). For my name, I just see it as the knowledge that there are 33 Americans who would have an easier time stealing my identity...and then soon find they regret it and pay me to take it back. Sort of O'Henry's "The Ransom of Red Chief," except my good name and creditworthiness are the bratty nine-year-old boy.
We now live in a society where actual bonding and shared identity--real identity--can be secondary to the sense of belonging from sharing a legal and formal identity. I guess that's a different problem from being in China, where even if you are a one-in-a-million kind of guy, there are 2000 people exactly like you. In our society we can be unique but share the reality our parents foisted upon us while reading one of those insipid Baby Name books. My parents would not spend the 50 cents from Pocket Books and picked one that is from the Latin for "guy who opens door for woman who does not see him there and closes it on his face." I wish it were Rex, or that they just called me Steven which they legally named me, but we don't do such things in the South. Which my brother Rory found out when he joined the Air Force and they suddenly started calling him Harold.
The Legal Profession Blog regrets to inform you that there are zero people named Jeff Lipshaw in the U.S. and equally few of the Jeffrey Lipshaw variety. There is Supreme Court precedent from 2000 suggesting that he will not succeed in demanding a recount. There is also Supreme Court precedent limiting trials in favor of summary judgment and arbitration, because live witnesses are so messy, plus Daubert allows trial judges individual discretion to accept pseudoscience as proof of fact. I hereby plan to represent "Jeff's" wife Alene on a contingency fee basis (paid into a commingled pool of money from which I'll pre-draw my 49%) to collect the life insurance proceeds due
me her. Meanwhile, I am merely a sociologist and not a philosophizer like "Jeff"--and "his" philosophy leans more to the Kantian than the modern Cartesian ilk ("I IM there4 I'm."). Still I ask myself, if a treehugger blogs in the woods, but does not exist, does anybody hear him?