Sierra Leonean Babies Named After Tony Blair

Kosovo isn’t the only place in the world where babies have been named after Tony Blair. There’s also the West African country of Sierra Leone:

[Blair’s] decision [in 2000] to send in British troops at the height of a brutal civil war is widely seen by Sierra Leoneans themselves as the critical moment in their country’s salvation. It turned the tide in the conflict and helped bring an end to an 11-year nightmare.

In 2010, The Guardian noted that “nine and ten year-old boys called Tony Blair are not uncommon now in Sierra Leone.”

One of these babies, Tony-Blair Kamara, was born in 2001 in the capital city of Freetown. His father said that he “would not be here speaking to you [if not for] all these risks Tony Blair took, because it was a political risk intervening where you know some of your troops will die.”

Sources: Sierra Leone: Tony Blair Born in Freetown, ‘I would not be speaking to you if it weren’t for the risks Blair took’, Free healthcare for Sierra Leone – and a whole lot of Tony Blairs

Do You Name Your Orchids?


Hubs and I went to a baseball game on Friday night, and one of the women sitting behind us spent time talking with her friends about the orchid in her office. And you know what? That orchid had a name: Octavia. The woman went on to say that she knew of another office orchid with a name (Desdemona) and that she thought all orchids deserved names because they’re so hard to take care of.

(I swear I’m not a creepy eavesdropper. I couldn’t help but overhear this stuff.)

Giving names to plants is nothing new, but her last point made me wonder if people are more likely to give names to finicky orchids than to plants that don’t take as much effort to grow.

Have you been introduced to any named orchids lately? More importantly, what name would you give an orchid?

P.S. In terms of baby names, both Orchid and the Spanish version Orquidea remain rare in the U.S. The fact that they stem from the Greek word for “testicle” (orkhis) could have something do with it.

P.P.S. The man-eating plant named Audrey in The Little Shop of Horrors may have been inspired by a man-eating orchid from a 1950s Arthur C. Clarke story, which in turn may have been inspired by an man-eating orchid from a 1890s H.G. Wells story. Disappointingly, neither of these two carnivorous orchids had names.

Babies Named Linux?

linux, tux, penguin
Tux, the Linux mascot
In August of 2008, a couple in Sweden named their baby boy Linux after the open-source operating system.

Linux’s dad said that “[t]he reaction from family and friends has been positive — they all like it. Our families think it’s a bit of an unusual name but still a nice one, and our friends like it because it sounds cool!”

He announced the name to fellow Linux users that October, asking community members to send along “any stuff with the name Linux on [it], like stickers, pens, and so on” that they could spare.

The baby name Linux is also being used in the U.S these days:

  • 2015: 6 baby boys named Linux
  • 2014: unlisted
  • 2013: 8 baby boys named Linux
  • 2012: 5 baby boys named Linux [debut]
  • 2011: unlisted

The operating system was created by Finnish software engineer Linus Torvalds. “Linux,” which Torvalds pronounces LEE-nux, is a portmanteau of Linus and Unix (the name of an earlier operating system).

What do you think of the name Linux? Do you like it more or less than Linus?

Source: A baby named Linux

Edith, the First U.S. Incubator Baby

baby incubatorOn September 7, 1888 — 128 years ago today — an incubator was used for the first time in the U.S. to treat a premature baby.

That baby’s name? Edith Eleanor McLean. She was born in New York City, and her birth-weight was below 3 pounds.

How did the names Edith and Eleanor do on the baby name charts in 1888? Edith was the 29th most popular baby girl name in the country that year and Eleanor ranked 128th.

These days, Edith ranks 526th and Eleanor 60th.

Source: Accardo, Pasquale. The Medical Almanac: A Calendar of Dates of Significance to the Profession of Medicine. New York: Springer, 1992.

The Kosovar Albanian Babies Named Tonibler

Tony Blair in Kosovo, with namesakes, 2010
Tony Blair & namesakes (in suits)
During the Kosovo conflict of the late 1990s, Yugoslav and Serbian forces under Slobodan Milošević persecuted ethnic Albanians — killing thousands and driving out hundreds of thousands.

After NATO became involved in 1999, thanks in large part to pressure from UK prime minister Tony Blair, the conflict was eventually resolved.

More than a few thankful Kosovan Albanian parents proceeded to named their sons “Tonibler,” “Toni,” and “Bler” in honor of Mr. Blair. Some examples:

  • Tonibler Dajaku
  • Tonibler Gashi (born in 2001)
  • Bler Podrimaj
  • Tonibler Sahiti (born in May of 1999)
  • Bler Thaqi (born in August of 1999)

When Blair visited Kosovo in 2010, he was “told that his name was ‘quite common’ in the country” and got a chance to meet nine of his namesakes.

Sources: Meet the Kosovan Albanians who named their sons after Tony Blair, Namesakes welcome Tony Blair during Kosovo visit, Kosovo conflict – Britannica

Giggleswick & Alkelda

st-alkeldaI recently read something that mentioned the English village of Giggleswick. That name was so fun I had to look it up: it’s a two-part place name made up of the Old English personal name Gikel or Gichel plus the Old English word wic meaning “dairy farm” or “dwelling.”

And inside the village is another interesting name: Alkelda. The church of St. Alkelda in Giggleswick is one of two churches in the North Yorkshire region named after the legendary local saint who may have been an Anglo-Saxon princess…or may have been entirely made up. Doubters note that the name “Alkelda” is suspiciously similar to haeligkeld, an Anglo-Saxon place name meaning “holy spring” or “holy well.”

So have any real-life babies been named after St. Alkelda? Yes, I found records for more than a dozen Alkeldas — all were born in England, and most were born in Yorkshire specifically.

The earliest Alkelda I found was Alkelda Browne, who married Willus Hill in Giggleswick in 1578. Next was Algitha Alkelda Brenda Orde-Powlett, who was born and died in 1871. (Elea mentioned Algitha Alkelda her Finds from 1871 post.)

Here are a few of the other Alkeldas:

  • Olive Alkelda Clark, b. 1879, in Essex
  • Enid Alkelda Brocklehurst, b. 1902 in Yorkshire
  • Frances Alkelda Outhwaite, b. 1904 in Yorkshire
  • Alkelda A George, b. 1926 in Yorkshire

What are your thoughts on the name Alkelda?


Image: Adapted from Middleham Church by John Clift under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Inspiring Namesake for Kelsey (or Frances)

Frances Kelsey, President Kennedy, 1962Dr. Frances Kelsey, who lived to 101, would have turned 102 this year on August 7th.

She was the FDA pharmacologist and physician who kept the sedative Thalidomide off the U.S. market in 1960 and 1961, despite pressure from the drug’s manufacturer.

Suspicious about the “glowing” claims made by the manufacturer, Dr. Kelsey was concerned that Thalidomide, which was being used in Europe to alleviate morning sickness, could have unknown side effects.

The link between Thalidomide and severe birth defects (such as phocomelia) emerged in late 1961. Thousands of European babies ended up with Thalidomide-related birth defects. Many of these babies did not survive infancy.

In July of 1962, Washington Post reporter Morton Mintz broke the Thalidomide story with an article entitled, “‘Heroine’ of FDA Keeps Bad Drug Off Market.” It opened,

This is the story of how the skepticism and stubbornness of a Government physician prevented what could have been an appalling American tragedy, the birth of hundreds or indeed thousands of armless and legless children.

The next month, Dr. Kelsey received the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service from John F. Kennedy.

Later the same year, amendments to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that “required drug manufacturers to prove scientifically that a medication was not only safe, but effective” was signed into law.

Dr. Frances Kelsey’s first name comes from the Late Latin name Franciscus, meaning “Frankish” or “Frenchman.” Her surname, originally a place name, is made up of two parts: the Old English byname Cenel (from cene, meaning “bold” or “valiant”) and the Old English word eg, meaning “island.” Frances was trendiest in the 1910s, while Kelsey was at peak popularity in the early 1990s.

Sources: Changing the Face of Medicine | Dr. Frances Kathleen Oldham Kelsey, “Autobiographical Reflections” by Frances Oldham Kelsey, Ph.D., M.D. (PDF), Kefauver-Harris Amendments Revolutionized Drug Development, Kelsey – Behind the Name