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Of Tennys players and moral Hazards

Zach Shahn writes:

After watching Tennys Sandgren play in the Australian Open quarterfinals last night, I think it might be time to accept that the dentists named Dennis people were onto something. Looking him up revealed that he was named after his great grandfather and not by a Richard Williams type parent who planned on grooming him into a pro. And on top of his name, he grew up in Tennessee. So he’s a tennis player named Tennys from Tennessee. Incidentally, it turns out he also seems to be a white supremacist who was a proponent of the “pizza-gate” theory… [no, not that Pizzagate — ed.]

I responded by pointing to this guy: a man named Hazard who was an expert on legal ethics.

Shahn replied:

Presumably he was a very moral Hazard.

And that’s all for the day.


  1. And then there is
    and, stretching a bit,
    Judge Learned Hand
    economist Richard Thaler (“thaler” being the etymological ancestor of “dollar”)
    (and I’m sure there are others)

  2. Anonymous says:

    I like names in a certain way. I did not like my own name first name growing up, but i sort of grew into it and now like it. I also have a middle name, which is the same name as my grandfather. Mostly my middle name, and my surname, i try to “honor” (e.g. in scientific writing i always add my middle name when possible) because i sort of view me being able to try and contribute to science a result of what my family has done before me.

    I also like names because they sort of “do something” to me when reading/hearing them. I’m sure people who have children, when picking names, have clear (good or bad) associations with possible names they themselves or their partners come up with. And, when reading/hearing a name, i sort of have a vague “idea” about how that person looks/acts/etc. Not really detailed of course, but there is “something” that gets triggered when hearing a name which i find interesting in a way. There must have been done some research into that.

    Anyway, Dennis the Dentist or Tennys the Tennis player from Tennessee are nothing compared to Metta World Peace. If you’re gonna possibly (try and) live up to your name, you might as well name yourself and aim high!

    • Martha (Smith) says:

      The daughter of Bill Lear (as in Lear Jet) lived down the hall from me in my college dorm. Her name was Shanda. (I’m not 100% sure if the following is true or not, but I was told that Shanda, the name she went by, was her middle name, and her first name was Crystal.)

      • Anonymous says:

        “(I’m not 100% sure if the following is true or not, but I was told that Shanda, the name she went by, was her middle name, and her first name was Crystal.)”

        Yes, i’ve also heard about people using their middle name. I think some actors have done this as well. And, if i am not mistaken, there seems to be a whole new “thing” these days where people re-name themselves like Metta World Peace.

        Like i said, i think names are pretty interesting. You also have books/sites where you can look up your name for meaning and origin which i also find to be interesting. Here is a link to the name “Martha”:

        Side note: you could scroll down the page for the most common last names that go with the first name “Martha” and see what’s the top one :)

        I also find it interesting that people name their children Jr. (like Bill Jr.) named after (i think usually) their father. Or, you also have the Bill the 2nd/3rd situations. I am not sure what to think of that though. It feels a bit strange to me to give my child my first name. I would want them to “be their own person”, and i reason giving them a different name then my own would somehow fit with that.

        Again, there must have been done research into these things. For instance, do children who are named after (i think usually) their father (like Bill Jr., or Bill the 3rd) somehow feel like they need to “follow in their fathers foot steps more” or are they more motivated to “do their own thing” precisely because they want to “differentiate themselves from their father” something like that.

        Here’s a video of Johnny Cash’s “A boy named Sue” (with the lyrics) that i just thought about given the above:

        • Martha (Smith) says:

          I don’t think you got the point about Ms. Lear — “Crystal Shanda Lear” vs just “Shanda Lear”. (Say the names out loud if you don’t get it.)

          • Anonymous says:

            “I don’t think you got the point about Ms. Lear — “Crystal Shanda Lear” vs just “Shanda Lear”. (Say the names out loud if you don’t get it.)”


            I thought about it when reading it for the 1st time, but only the Shanda Lear (chandelier) made sense to me as a possible joke, and i looked up the names and they were real persons. The combination of these 2 things resulted in my not getting the joke (English is also not my 1st language).

            I did not get the 2nd part of the joke, the Crystal Shanda Lear (crystal chandelier) part, because following your comment (and my focus on using middle names as 1st names) i reasoned the name she could have used would have been Crystal Lear then (i.c. she only changed Crystal to Shanda, and in both cases there was no use of the middle name).

            So for me, the comparison was between the names Shanda Lear and Crystal Lear, and not Shanda Lear and Crystal Shanda Lear. That’s probably why i didn’t get the joke (all the way at least).

          • Jonathan (another one) says:

            Reminds me of the 19th century Rhode Islander Charity Dodge who married into the equally prominent Ball family.

      • Robin Morris says:

        I was at school with a kid called Alistair Nutt. His father was Peter, and his mother, Hazel.

    • Nate says:

      I can imagine that it would be hard to identify with a name such as *Anonymous*…

  3. In some novel by Max Shulman, a humor writer of the 1950s, there’s a character named DiMaggio who’s a pretty good baseball player, not because he had any particular talent or love for the game but because other people assumed from his name that he must be a natural. So he wound up being forced to play a lot, and from that amount of practice wound up as a better-than-average player.

    I also know someone whose first name is Tennyson (it’s his middle name actually, but it’s the one he went by). Neither he nor the parent responsible for the name was much interested in tennis. Nor did he even dabble in poetry.

  4. Mikhail says:

    … or think about reverend Thomas Bayes. With such a name its no coincident he got interested in Bayesian Statistics …

  5. Wonks Anonymous says:

    I clicked the link, but it didn’t say anything about Tennys being a white supremacist.

  6. Dave says:

    My favorite along this line has always been Walter Russel Brain, a well known mid-20th century British neurologist. Lord Brain, the first Baron Brain, was the editor of the journal Brain, and the author of Brain’s Diseases of the Nervous System. I became aware of him when I picked up a copy of his book, “Mind, Perception and Science” at a used book store largely because of the wonderfully appropriate name of the author.

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