Category Archives: crazy stuff

Not just monkey business

What happens if a person is brought up in a way that is more likely to cause them to act violently? Should they be criminally responsible for their actions? That’s a difficult enough question, but what happens if the perpetrator of a crime is a monkey? These questions are raised by the case of Chico the delinquent pet macaque.

Chico had already been in trouble with the law previously. When US Federal agents had visited the home of his owner some years ago, Chico had acted aggressively and threw faeces at the agents (although he was not the subject of their investigation, of course). This probably didn’t help his cause in the eyes of the law.

On the present occasion, he escaped from his home in Spokane and bit three people shortly thereafter. He was then taken into custody and held at a local humane society. Because he had bitten people, there was a chance that he could have infected them with rabies or herpes B, both of which are fatal to humans. The only way of testing for rabies is a post mortem test of brain tissue, and accordingly, it was decided that he should be put down.

One can’t help feeling sorry for poor old Chico. Apparently it’s a very bad idea to keep monkeys as pets, and they commonly become aggressive and violent. The bottom line is that in many cases, they can’t be “domesticated”, but nor can they then readapt to normal primate society either. Further, some monkeys carry diseases which can be transferred to humans. Many macaques carry Herpes B.

Should a primate like Chico have “quasi-human” rights or “primate rights”? Some might argue that we show no qualms about putting down dogs who bite humans, so a monkey is no different. However, monkeys are much closer to humans genetically speaking. Should they be given more of a chance than a dog?

Here it seems that Chico was put down primarily because of the health concerns involved, but it doesn’t seem fair that he has to pay the ultimate price for that: his misbehaviour is a direct consequence of his owner’s behaviour in treating him as a pet. Incidentally, it appears that his owner will be charged with keeping a dangerous animal. She is already awaiting sentencing for fraud proceedings in relation to a false college degrees sold over the Internet.

I can’t help wondering what would happen if a larger primate (such as an orang utan or a chimpanzee) killed a person. Should it be determined if the primate had understanding of its actions if it was proposed to put the animal down? To establish criminal liability, it is required to establish that there was an actus reus (criminal action) and a mens rea (criminal intention). It has been argued that chimpanzees could potentially be more rational than human beings (in an experiment involving the economist’s ultimatum game). Do chimpanzees and other great apes have the moral agency required to be prosecuted for a crime? I am sure I have seen a documentary where a grieving chimpanzee mother carried around her dead baby for days, until some other chimps from the group took the baby away. It was actually very distressing to watch. Clearly the mother and the other chimps had a concept of death, and what is more, the mother had a very human reaction to her child’s death.

On the other hand, having a “quasi-trial” for an animal could become farcical. There is a long and dishonourable tradition of animal trials. The most common animals which were the subject of such trials were pigs, bulls, cows or horses, or pests such as rats, mice and weevils. Edward Payson Evans wrote a book called The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals in 1906, which cited a variety of cases, including the prosecution of a number of moles in the Valle D’Aosta in 824, the charges against a cow by the Parliament of Paris in 1546 and the conviction of a Swiss dog for murder in 1906. It’s well worth reading this article in Cabinet Magazine for more details of the book – I think I need a copy.

Back to Chico: a case such as this does raise serious issues as to how we deal with criminal offences, whether committed by human or primate.

  • How much should ill-treatment and bad upbringing explain criminal conduct?
  • If monkeys can become aggressive through a particular kind of upbringing, is the same true of humans?
  • How genetically close should an animal be to a human being before it is treated like a human before the law? (if at all)
  • What if it can be shown that a particular kind of animal has some sort of moral understanding akin to human understanding?
  • What if a human perpetrator has very little moral understanding of the consequences of his or her criminal actions? Does this make them able to be treated like an “animal”? (I would argue not – that’s what universal human rights are all about – but it’s an interesting question)

It’s a pretty sad case all in all. It sounds to me like the US is in dire need of some laws with regard to keeping primates as pets – primates are very like us in some ways, but they are not substitute children, and they do badly in a domesticated environment.

(Via Short Sharp Science blog, from New Scientist)

(Hat tip to Dave Bath for bringing this case to my attention)

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Filed under animals, crazy stuff, criminal law, death sentence, good and evil, Guilt, human rights, morality

The law weighs in on the side of gingers

I was commenting to a learned friend and colleague that the posts which receive the highest hits on this blog are the ones which deal with discrimination towards red heads. The comment threads on the posts reveal that there’s a lot of proud gingers, and a lot of insane people with a prejudice against red hair. My colleague told me that discrimination against those with red hair is in fact enshrined in the law as the epitome of unreasonable exercise of executive power.

Any lawyer who has studied administrative law knows of the concept of Wednesbury unreasonableness, where a decision of an administrative power can only be overturned by a Court if it is “[s]o outrageous in its defiance of logic or accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it.” (Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service (the GCHQ case) [1985] AC 374, 410 per Lord Diplock).

In Associated Provincial Picture Houses v Wednesbury Corporation [1948] 1 KB 223, a cinema challenged the exercise of discretion by the Wednesbury Corporation to grant a licence for the operation of a cinema with the condition that no children under 15 were admitted on Sundays. The Court said the decision of the Corporation could only be challenged if it had been shown that it had taken into account matters which should not have been taken into account, or failed to take into account matters which should have been taken into account, or made a decision so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could have made it. The cinema failed to make out any of these bases.

In explaining what kind of a decision represented an unreasonable one, Lord Greene MR said:

It is true the discretion must be exercised reasonably. Now what does that mean? Lawyers familiar with the phraseology commonly used in relation to exercise of statutory discretions often use the word “unreasonable” in a rather comprehensive sense. It has frequently been used and is frequently used as a general description of the things that must not be done. For instance, a person entrusted with a discretion must, so to speak, direct himself properly in law. He must call his own attention to the matters which he is bound to consider. He must exclude from his consideration matters which are irrelevant to what he has to consider. If he does not obey those rules, he may truly be said, and often is said, to be acting “unreasonably.” Similarly, there may be something so absurd that no sensible person could ever dream that it lay within the powers of the authority. Warrington L.J. in Short v. Poole Corporation [1926] Ch. 66, 90, 91 gave the example of the red-haired teacher, dismissed because she had red hair. That is unreasonable in one sense. In another sense it is taking into consideration extraneous matters. It is so unreasonable that it might almost be described as being done in bad faith; and, in fact, all these things run into one another.

{emphasis added}

So, all you anti-gingers out there are guilty of Wednesbury unreasonableness – a decision so unreasonable that no reasonable person could take it. No lesser authority than the English Court of Appeal tells you so. (Hmm…I wonder if Lord Greene had red hair?)

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Filed under administrative law, courts, crazy stuff, judges, law, red hair, society, tolerance

Through the looking glass darkly?

After the rather serious and contentious nature of my previous post, I thought I might move to less serious material (hat tip to Dave Bath for sharing this with me).

Comparative Law Blog notes that Lewis Carroll’s books Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are the most widely quoted children’s books in judgments. I loved those books when I was little.

The passage which is most cited in judicial statements is an interchange between Alice and Humpty Dumpty. Humpty tries to convince Alice that “un-birthdays” are better than birthdays because there is only one birthday, but 364 “un-birthdays” in a year.

‘…As I was saying, that seems to be done right—though I haven’t time to look it over thoroughly just now—and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents—’

‘Certainly,’ said Alice.

‘And only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!’

‘I don’t know what you mean by “glory,”’ Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. ‘Of course you don’t— till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”’

‘But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument,”’ Alice objected.

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master— that’s all.’

The last three sentences are cited in those cases where a party is trying to argue that it can unilaterally determine the meaning of a word which has multiple meanings. As the Comparative Law Blogger says, this is problematic because:

…the speaker gets to unilaterally determine the meaning of his words precludes all form of communication when applied to ordinary life, but leads to absolute power when applied to legal commands. It is not mere retroactivity, therefore, that is objectionable; it is the absolute power that comes with being both legislator and judge.

The problem is that someone who is supposed to follow the law does not know what the law is (until the other side tells them they have breached it). This quote was famously used by Lord Atkin in dissent in Liversedge v Anderson [1941] UKHL 1; (1942) AC 206, and has subsequently been used in Australian cases, including:

  • Anteden Pty Ltd v Glen Eira City Council [2000] VSC 366 at [30];
  • Klason v Australian Capital Territory [2003] ACTSC 104 at [88] (in which the delightful neologism “Humptyspeak” is also coined in para [89]);
  • Opal Group Holdings (Aust) Pty Ltd v Franklins Ltd [2002] NSWCA 196 at [41];
  • Re Franklin Mint Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Taxation [1993] FCA 28 at [44];
  • Minister for Immigration v Yusuf [2001] HCA 30 at [112] – [113];
  • Gary Ian Smoker v The Pharmacy Restructuring Authority [1994] FCA 1487 at [7];
  • Re Slavko Nikac; Rifat Hassan Gogebakan and Alexander Sorenson v Minister for Immigration [1988] FCA 400 at [41]
  • Austral Constructions Pty Ltd; Re Austral Construction Pty Ltd Certified Agreement 2003 PR941051 [2003] AIRC 1467 at [1]; and
  • Coomera Land Development Corporation Pty Ltd v Urban Land Development Pty Ltd [2006] QDC 365 at [1].

However, Humpty is not the only Carroll character to have featured in judgments.

The Cheshire Cat has also featured in an New South Wales Supreme Court judgment, Jennings v Credit Corp Australia Pty Ltd [2000] NSWSC 210 at [40]:

 I would prefer to test the matter by analysing the nature of the defect in the Respondent’s Statement of Liquidated Claim and then determining its consequences for the status of that claim in the context of the relevant rules as applicable to a Local Court dealing with a civil claim. It is only by so doing that one can answer the question whether, in the events that happened, “an action is brought on the cause of action” within the meaning of s63(2) of the Limitation Act 1969 (NSW), so as to be protected from extinguishment as statute barred. The analysis therefore requires consideration of the status of the equitable assignee’s writ or claim. This is in circumstances where the debtor had not at any time moved to set the writ aside or stay the action, such that it might be said to be voidable but not void, as in the case of judicial review setting aside a determination for breach of rules of natural justice. In that analogous context, courts now generally favour a “relative” concept of invalidity. This allows courts to hold that a decision is “void ab initio”, as if it had never been made, but only once a competent court declares that it was so made in breach of rules of natural justice. But even after avoidance the cases confirm that such a decision has practical and even legal effect, like the smile on the cheshire cat, lingering after the cat has vanished. See Lewis Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Ch 6: “I’ve often seen a cat without a grin”, says Alice. “But a grin without a cat, that’s the most curious thing I’ve ever seen in all my life.”; see Aronson & Dyer “Judicial Review of Administrative Action” (LBC, 1996) at 485 and for a good example of such judicial treatment Forbes v Trotting Club (NSW) [1979] HCA 27; (1979) 143 CLR 242 at 277. The present case is stronger; there never was any setting aside nor even an application to do so on this ground before the legal estate was got in. There was simply resistance to the Plaintiff’s substitution application when made after the legal estate was acquired and after a further assignment.

There is a reference to the Walrus and the Carpenter in Re Richard Bateman and Georgina Gay Bateman v Barbara Jean Slayter [1987] FCA 58 at [18]:

Having regard to these matters, as well as to the matters I have already discussed in relation to the cash flow projections, I am satisfied that the directors had no basis for the assertion that there was no risk of loss or the prediction that all loans obtained to set up the business would be repaid within one year or, if the statement that the concept was proven be regarded as merely a matter of opinion, for the assertion of such an opinion. I am satisfied that all three of them must have known the situation. What had been “proven” was that the concept of franchising was capable of returning large sums to the franchisor. In the circumstances, to invite persons to join the company as franchisees upon the basis that they would get the benefit of a proven concept was akin to the invitation to join in a treat which the Walrus and the Carpenter extended to the oysters in Through the Looking Glass.

The Hunting of the Snark has featured in a Queensland judgment, R v Robinson [1998] QCA 50:

It is well known that lay people often wrongly conclude that because a person has repeatedly said that something has occurred, therefore it must for that reason be true. They are often inclined to the view that mere assertion, particularly if repeated, necessarily means that what is asserted is true. Lewis Carroll ‘s statement in Hunting of the Snark that “What I tell you 3 times is true”, is quite incorrect. Merely saying something does not necessarily make it so. There are several references to statements made by the complainant in ex.1 and in his oral evidence. The first was in 1994 to his 18 year old neighbour. Then there was the statement to his mother and his further reference of statements made to his mother, father, grandmother and various other persons above referred to.

The Snark also gets a guernsey in Uniquema Pty Ltd v Commissioner of State Revenue [2002] VSC 157 at [3]: ‘Goodwill can be an elusive concept and as difficult to hunt as a snark.’

The poem Jabberwocky gets a reference in Re Johnson & Johnson Australia Pty Ltd v Sterling Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd [1991] FCA 310 at paras [8] – [9] of the judgment of Burchett J, where the nature of the word “caplet” is considered:

Not every word is a blank disc upon which any recognizable significance can only be moulded by usage; some words have a currency from the moment they are minted, bearing a perceptible, even if previously unfamiliar image. A brilliant example of sustained use of new-coined words to convey an imprecise, but yet vivid, descriptive meaning is to be found in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass:

“‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.”

“Caplets” is not only more prosaic than this; it conveys, at any rate in the context of the illustrations upon the packet and the actual articles within it, not to say the accompanying repetition in ordinary language, a plain and direct meaning. No one looking at the packet could doubt that the product was sold under the name Tylenol, that the company concerned in its sale was Johnson and Johnson, and that it had been made up in the form of the stated number of caplets. If a person, who had not seen the product before, had any doubt about the exact form of the drug which was a caplet, that doubt could not have survived the briefest examination of the packet and its contents.

Even the Queen of Hearts gets a mention in South Australia v O’Shea [1987] HCA 39 at [10]:

… It was said, on behalf of the State, that the diverse considerations which might have influenced different members of Cabinet “are not the sorts of matters on which one would expect a person to have a right to be heard simply because the right to be heard on matters like that is, with respect, a somewhat empty right”. To echo the rhetoric of Lord Atkin in Liversidge v Anderson (at p 245), I know of only one authority which supports such an approach to the right to be heard in relation to matters founding an effective decision that indefinite incarceration should be imposed or continued otherwise than as punishment for a specific proven offence. “‘No, no,’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first – verdict afterwards'” (Alice in Wonderland, ch.xii). I reject that approach. 

I wonder what Carroll would have thought if he had know his works would have been so popular with judges? Probably it’s best that some quotes aren’t used, I think I’d get worried if a judge started quoting the Queen’s shout: Off with her head!

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Filed under books, children's books, courts, crazy stuff, judges, law, reading

The Wedding Industry

I have been privileged to be involved in a few weddings lately as a bridesmaid (or, if you like, a matron of honour, although I don’t much like the thought of being “matronly”). On Saturday, I spent the day with one of my brides looking at bridal dress shops. Ugh! I think it’s fair to say that by the end of the day, we were all exhausted and a bit dispirited. We all agreed that the vast majority of these shops were hideous. Saleswomen tried to pressure the poor bride into all kinds of horrible dresses, and made adverse comments about the way in which she had chosen to organise her wedding or her dress preferences. She is not going to have a long engagement period. These shops seemed to see it as a mortal sin that she hadn’t put aside two years of her life to planning her wedding. But she wants something simple and cream or ivory coloured, reasonably enough: the only problem is that it’s very hard to get something like that without running the gauntlet of these horrid stores.

When I was preparing to get married, I went to two bridal dress stores. The first one was okay, but the second one put me off such stores for the rest of my life. The girl jammed me into a series of meringues, and because I didn’t fit into the size 8 sample dresses, I was told I was fat. I couldn’t actually walk in any of the dresses anyway. So I walked out of there and never went back to a bridal dress store again until last Saturday. In the end, I didn’t wear a white dress and I didn’t get my dress from a bridal dress store. So there.

I remember that when I got engaged, I made the mistake of getting some bridal magazines. I had never really thought about what I would do for my wedding, and after accepting my husband’s proposal, I realised that I’d have to start thinking about it. What a fright those magazines gave me! It was like a glimpse into a different world. First, they suggested that one’s wedding day was the be-all-and-end-all, and that one should devote one’s entire life (and savings) to  that one day. Secondly, many of the dresses were both expensive and ugly. My colleague and I spent all morning defacing the bridal magazines, with choice comments such as “$3000 for a tablecloth?”

For some reason, I also went to a bridal fair during my wedding preparations. I don’t know why. Perhaps I had some kind of masochistic streak, or my terrible curiosity got the better of me? Well, in any case, it was an interesting sociological experience. There were some quite extraordinary things on display there. I could pay thousands for sculptures of kissing ice swans. I could get teddy bears made with the same outfits as the groom and I. I could get my bouquet dried and displayed. The dried flowers reminded me disturbingly of the skin of a mummy. One could even get Wanderer butterflies released at one’s wedding ceremony. My mother asked the butterfly lady the hard question: “What happens if you release the butterflies in midwinter? Won’t they die?” I’m sure the lady was cursing my mother, but I was applauding her: it was exactly what I had also been wondering. The lady looked kind of shifty and said, “Oh no, they’re fine, they just fly off somewhere!” Poor butterflies, frozen to death for the sake of someone’s wedding ceremony… The only upside was that I did find a good wedding photographer at the fair.

The thing that strikes me about these wedding magazines and fairs is that it’s all about having the right things – the right dress, the right cars, the right ice sculptures, you name it. What about some reflection on what marriage means? The important thing is not what you wear, or the car that takes you to the ceremony. Of course, it’s nice to have a pretty dress and all that stuff. I loved dressing up and celebrating. But that wasn’t the point of the whole thing. The point was to swear my fidelity to my partner for the rest of my life. It was in a public ceremony which emphasised the seriousness of our commitment, and celebrated our relationship with our friends and family. (I’ve never been able to see why same-sex couples should not also be able to have civil weddings: why should they not have the same opportunity to celebrate with family and friends?)

As my aspiring bride said to me on Saturday, “I’m not so fussed about the ceremony, what I’m looking forward to is waking up every day next to my husband for the rest of my life.” Now that’s what I call being properly prepared for a wedding.

Update

Crazy weddings are not only a Western phenomenon either. Apparently since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the groom is expected to fund the cost of wedding, which is many times the annual salary of an average person. This has created problems for some grooms.

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Filed under bridal industry, crazy stuff, society, weddings

Clowns sicken young patients

I’ve written posts before about my deep and abiding hatred of clowns. Once on a plane, that movie Patch Adams was showing, featuring Robin Williams as an unconventional doctor who wears a clown outfit. I tried to keep my eyes closed for most of it after I saw him wearing long shoes and a red nose. My thought at the time was that if any doctor dressed as a clown came near me, I’d run screaming and probably take a turn for the worse.

Apparently I’m not alone. My Mum sent me this article about a British study which shows that kids between the ages of four and sixteen have an almost universal dislike of clowns, and many children find them scary. Clowns in childrens’ hospitals do not cheer the children up, and are more likely to scare them.

Penny Curtis, one of the researchers, is quoted in the article as saying:

“As adults we make assumptions about what works for children. We found that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable.”

They should employ me as the “cheerer-up” at hospitals. I certainly wouldn’t assume that people would be amused by clowns. And there’s no way I would inflict clowns on patients, whether child or adult. Who actually finds clowns funny? Sometimes I wonder.

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For the love of Chris

Possibly I shouldn’t laugh. But I got a hilarious spam e-mail today, and I can’t help reproducing it for you too:

Dear Beloved In Chris

i am mrshelen david brown the wife of fomer ministre of agricuture in sudan here in africa, i know that you may not believe my story becuse of what is happening in the word today,  but if you can believe that jesus christ came to the word and died for you and me you will belive my story in the name of our lord jesus amen

I and my husband was living with happiness praying for God to answer us our prayer by giving us even if one child to be call our own  becuse my husband and i were orhpans. We dont have any brother sister or any relative all our relative died doing the crisis that occure in our country here in africa. God is the only one we have as brother and sister before my husband was appointed as the minister of agricuture here in our country sudan. Things was so beutiful before the anemies come in, since my husband get into the sit of a minister his political oponet has been loking for away to  pull him down untill when they sent assasin to kill my husband on his way home from the office. Before then my husband deposited the sum usd $7.6 million in a bank in Cote  d’ivoire Abijan one the country here in africa which he use my name as the nest of kin and the beneficary of that money since we have no child.

Five months after my husband death i travelled to london for my medical treatment that was when the doctor comfimed that i have cancer and firbrod. I spent more than one year in the hospital in london before the doctor told me to go back to my conutry that my sicknes can not be cured. I came back home praying for God to save me without knowing that another sicknes is on the way to come. One morning i was coming out from the hospital were i was taking my treatment in one of the village here in my conutry i fell down on the ground two days later the doctor comfirmd that i have a stroke since then my dear one in the lord i have never use my two leg to walk or to stand any longer, few weeks ago the doctor told me that i will not last long any longer in the earth that is why i decided to donate my money to the Orphanage widows and les previleges one so that peoples life can be giving a meanig.

But my problem is, can i trust you as a true christian to help me do this work of God not for Man becuse i want to fufill the last wold of my husband before he died. He told me to donate his wealth to the orphanage or les previlege ones to any country of my choice. That is why i am contacting you and handing  this money into you care to use it  for the work of God not for man becuse i am going down every day by day. Please my dear one in the lord, if you are touch by my story please do not waist time to contact me  so that i will give you the contact of the bank and inform them about you so that you can contact them for the money to be transfar into your own account in your conutry, THANK AND GOD BLESS YOU AS YOU HELP ME AMEN

mrshelen david

Sorry, mrshelen david, I don’t believe a word you say, and I don’t believe in Chris either (unless you’re talking about a guy I went to uni with, which seems unlikely). But you did make me laugh. And I hope your firbrods get better soon.

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Filed under crazy stuff, e-mail, humour

What, no Bertha?

According to the Brisbane Times, the top ten girls’ names of 2007 are:

1: Ella (419 born)
2: Charlotte (340)
3: Mia (321)
4: Emily (312)
5: Isabella (307)
6: Chloe (301)
7: Sophie (254)
8: Ava (253)
9: Lily (239)
10: Olivia (232)

We almost called our daughter Ella, but I’m glad that we didn’t in light of this list. There was a girl with the same first name and surname as me at one of my schools, and it caused no end of confusion.

Here are the boy’s names:

1: Jack (503 born)
2: Lachlan (418)
3: Riley (380)
4: Cooper (372)
5: William (358)
6: Joshua (343)
7: Thomas (325)
8: Samuel (278)
9: Ethan (273)
10: Ryan (268)

I know a few boys with those names too. 

When I first fell pregnant, for some reason, my husband decided it was a boy, and he wanted to call it “Liam” in honour of a Valentine’s Day prank which he played on me. He sent me spoof e-mails from a secret admirer called Liam, causing me to get rather freaked out and ring him at work, whereupon he had to confess.  But we then found out our baby was a girl and called her “Bertha” until she was born. Thank goodness that didn’t stick (apologies to any Berthas or persons related to Berthas out there). 

At my English school, there was a definite class divide in names. This meant that there was a rather boring pool of names to choose from. There were no less than 6 girls (out of 60 in our year) with variations on “Clare/Claire”. Some names which are regarded as normal in Australia were regarded as “townie” names at my school. My sister and I were lucky not to stand out in that regard.

Has anyone read Freakonomics on the science of names? It’s an interesting read. Some names stay popular, others become passe. It confirms my thoughts on the trends of names of upper middle class English school girls. Some of it seems to be class oriented – parents give their children “aspirational” names – but then for the more educated or more upper class, those names become “tainted”. And I guess some names become dated. I had a great aunt Gladys, but I don’t know of any baby Gladyses. Who knows why some names do date and some don’t?

Sometimes I think English naming traditions are a bit boring. Apparently in Communist Russia, new revolutionary names were invented, so a child might be called Dazdrapertrak (meaning “Long Live the First Tractor“) or Barikada (meaning “Barricades”). I’m sure my Russian friend told me of a girl called “Nuclear power” or something like that. I’ll have to get the story off her. In Mongolia, if parents lose their first child, they give the second child a terrible name to scare off the spirits: eg, Muunokhoi (meaning “Vicious Dog”). Nonetheless, I don’t think I’ll be borrowing any of those names any time soon for any future children…

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