So after “the Water Callers’ performance”:/2006/12/the-water-callers.html the other night, I said hi to one of the performers, Bart, and after greeting me by name, he expressed some surprise at having, in fact, remembered it. I, in turn, made what in retrospect sounds like a bit of a graceless comment about how it was a good guess, regardless, since it was the most popular name for male children around the time I was born.
So we ended up chatting about the subject of name popularity and such, and he mentioned having played with some resources when some friends were trying to pick names for their immanent child, and the “weird names people are picking these days”:/2004/11/no-rest-for-the-wicked.html, and how Matthew still gets around even though there was no Beatle by that name, etc.
So, in one of those coincidences that often happens “a Linux hacker”:http://spyderous.livejournal.com/86490.html noted a reference to a site that the Social Security administration has “that lets you look at name popularity”:http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/.
It turns out, 1970 was just the tip of the iceberg–in the last 60 years, there’s only been 16 where Michael _wasn’t_ #1. And while my name has kept its place pretty solidly, as you look at different decades, others shift wildly. I mean, the idea of Joshua being more popular than John strikes me as improbably, but it the 80s, that came to be the case, and the idea that Jacob is more popular than Michael in the 00s seems even weirder. And Christopher, which has been the consistent #2 in the 70s and 80s–another interesting fact I wasn’t aware of–is out of the top 10.
Anyway, I guess this illustrates nothing so much as there’s no accounting for taste, however you look at it.