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May 22, 2007 | Tate Linden
Oh, cute! A whale naming contest!

The local CBS affilliate is having a contest to name a mother and calf that have gotten lost up the Sacramento river. Cool right?


Except as I seem to recall, many of these whales that wander up rivers tend not to live to see the ocean again.

On the plus side, there's not much at stake here with the names. Whales probably don't care - or know - what we call them. On the down side we're going to have a whole bunch of little kids following Bonnie and Clyde - or whatever their names will be - and I don't know how easily they'll believe the whales went to live on the farm with the pet dog.

So we're naming two animals that may be doing their best to off themselves for some reason. Let's make it a fun story for the kiddies!


Interested in a better story about dying or dead whales? This one is my all time favorite. And it may just be the first story to ever use "Splud" to describe the sound of a whale exploding. After you read Dave Barry's version I encourage you to watch the video - especially the 30 seconds following the explosion.

Bring the family!
BirdieGirl May 22, 2007 12:36 PM

There are four or five naming contests - San Francisco Chronicle, Contra Costa Times, Sacramento Bee, and several local news channels. Apparently the Lieutenant Governor has already named them "Delta" and "Dawn."
The leading contenders so far are interesting, partly because there seems to be a pattern in animal naming contests to go for A) thematic (they’re trapped in the Sacramento Delta near Rio Vista, therefore “Delta” and “Rio Vista”), B) pop-cultural (George and Gracie were the whales in Star Trek IV), or C) random foreign-language descriptors (“Malahini” and “Makai” mean “Seaward” and “Newcomer,” respectively)
Malahini and Makai: Contra Costa Times

Rio and Vista: San Francisco Chronicle and

Delta Dawn and Sunny: Sacramento Bee

Delta and Dawn:

Tate Linden May 22, 2007 12:44 PM

You can't be the real BirdieGirl. The real BirdieGirl would've ended her post with "...and Al-Qaeda is trying to think of ways to use this as a way to lower our national morale. Right after we get attached they'll kill them off and there will be mass panic."
C'mon faux BirdieGirl - you can't hold a candle to the real deal.
Where's that badassedness I've come to rely on?

Nancy Friedman May 22, 2007 1:50 PM

According to my New Pocket Hawaiian Dictionary (note to Tate: I didn't see that one in your bookshelf inventory!), BirdieGirl has her definitions crossed. "Makai" means seaward ("kai" means ocean) and "Malihini" (not "Malahini") means newcomer. Hawaiians never use compass points to denote direction; instead, they say "down makai" (toward the ocean) or "up mauka" (toward the mountain; inland--every Hawaiian island was a volcano).

Tate Linden May 22, 2007 2:07 PM

Re: Bookshelf inventory. In fairness to me, I haven't hit on my reference section yet... though in fairness to you, Nancy, you won't be seeing a New Pocket Hawaiian Dictionary on it. I've got Latin, Greek, Spanish... and all sorts of word-part, ologies, and isms sort of stuff.
But Hawaiian ain't there.
My favorite book is "The Public Accepts" - an pre WWII book on the stories behind corporate names. It is fascinating more for the companies that no longer exist than it is for the ones that do. Anyone can find the history of Gillette - but how many people know the etymology of Monk's Foot, Holeproof, or 606.
Boy am I a kick at parties or what?