Thursday, October 12, 2017

how they got their names

1. In the 1850s, the northwestern part of the US was one jurisdiction, Oregon Territory. Most of the American settlers lived south of the Columbia River that bisected it, and those who lived north felt neglected by the local government. So they petitioned Congress to be created a separate territory. The name they proposed in the petition was Columbia, after the river.

But Congress thought that would be confusing because there was already a District of Columbia. So they changed the name to Washington instead.

(Did anyone in Congress notice how stupid this was? Eventually someone did, but by that time it was too late to amend the bill without putting it off until the next year. So they judged it better to let it go through as it was.)

2. The Beatles were recording an album they intended to title Everest. As the name of the world's highest mountain, it appropriately signified a majestic achievement. But in fact they'd chosen the name casually: it was the name of the brand of cigarettes their recording engineer smoked.

The plan was to fly to Nepal after finishing the album, and take a cover photo posing in front of the mountain. But the Beatles decided that was too much of a drag, flying all that way just to take a picture. So they had the idea of taking the least possible effort instead: they'd walk out the front door of the studio, take the cover photo in the middle of the street outside, and title the album after the street.

So that's what they did, and that's why the album is called Abbey Road.

3. Rex Tillerson is frequently compared with a dog, not just for his dogged allegiance towards his abusive master, but because his name is Rex. That's his real name, but he's not named for a dog; his parents named him for a movie cowboy named Rex Allen. (That was his real name too.)

Rex Harrison, on the other hand, is a nickname, and he did get it from a dog.

Interestingly, Rex Tillerson's middle name is Wayne, which came from another movie cowboy, the better-remembered John Wayne. John Wayne's nickname was, famously, Duke. That also came from a dog.

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