Monday, May 10, 2004

A girl by any other name ...

I'm a big fan of useless statistics. As Clifford Worley said, I find that shit fascinating.

So when the Social Security Administration comes out with its annual list of top baby names, I like to spend a little time poking around their database. Since 1990 (they must have upgraded to 486 CPUs that year), they've been keeping tabs on each and every name coming across the SSN applications, and you can run searches on the popularity of different names (if they are in the top 1,000) over that time.

You may have seen the list of top boy and girl names for the year:

Top 5 Boys: Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Matthew, Andrew

Top 5 Girls: Emily, Emma, Madison, Hannah, Olivia

But my desire to waste my evening (nothing much on the TiFaux after we caught up on Gilmore) led me to dig deeper. Baby names are nothing if not trendy, so I wanted to see how the top names have fared over the 14 years of SSN data.

The top boy names have held fairly steady:

You'll notice Jacob's hard charge to the top spot (20 in 1990 to 1 in 2003), but otherwise it's a pretty steady list.

The girl side, however, is a different story.

Check out the moves on Madison! From 216 to 3 in just 14 years. Emma's gone from 132 to 2 and Olivia from 74 to 5. Only Emily (12 in 1990) and Hannah (31 in 1990) have been consistent performers.

I tried to put some logic to Madison's rapid rise, but Splash came out in the early '80s and if there's some other celebrity factor driving her rise, it's not coming to me at the moment. It looks like Emma's jump from 13 to 4 happened the year Rachel named her and Ross' kid that, but she'd been climbing the charts pretty quickly before then.

More fun stuff:

Take a look at the chart of Shaquille and Kobe:

Shaquille came on the scene in 1991 when he was at LSU (there were stories back then in Baton Rouge about parents who named their kid Shaquille), peaked as we went pro and disappeared in 1997 ... right when Kobe began to appear in the rankings. His rank has risen with his popularity, and it'll be interesting to see the effect of his rape trial on the 2004 rankings. Based on this chart, I get the feeling the demographic that would name a kid Shaquille is just about the same group that would name a kid Kobe.

And then we have Monica:

Nothing will send a name out of vogue quite like having it associated with "fat blow job whore".

It seems the only thing worse than being known for blowing the president is being known as the raging bitch who drove the president into the mouth of a fat blow job whore.

(Hillary fell off the list for good in 2002)


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