Too Many Miamis

Fact-checking Florida is risky business, but here we are

Published October 25, 2023

Citation Needed

Spelled with a “y,” what’s the oh-so-Gen-Alpha name of the human leader of the PAW Patrol? Ryder

My top source this week is one that’s surely the most entertaining website maintained by the U.S. federal government: The Social Security Administration’s database of baby names. If you’re unfamiliar, the site allows you to input a year to view the top baby names of either gender from that year, or a name to track peak popularity across the decades. Indeed, peak “Ryder” is 2012 to 2016, where it hovered around the No. 100 spot for top boy’s names (PAW Patrol bowed in 2013, lest you wonder). 

It’s definitely not my first time exploring the history of baby names; If you’re a name nerd like me, I recommend these excellent visualizations of the evolution of baby names, both for boys and girls. You might notice that girls’ names in the U.S. tend to be distinctively “trendier’‘ than boys, at least until we hit the new millennium. For example, from 1984 to 1994, the top four boys’ names were Michael, Christopher, Matthew, and Joshua, in that order, immutable for more than a decade. In that same period, Jessica usurped Jennifer; Ashley replaced Jessica; and Amanda, Sarah, Brittany, Emily, and Samantha all made a run for it.

Rabbit Holes

Thirteen-time women’s champ Irina Gladkaya has piled up over 60 million YouTube views, with a video of her owning ripped dudes in what resort city that’s apparently not part of Miami? Miami Beach

I’m not a Florida Man. But I am a New Englander, so I’ll inevitably retire to Florida when I’m ancient and decrepit, like my grandparents or Tom Brady. Point is, I don’t know that much about Miami, so I’ve only just learned how much of “Miami” isn’t actually within city limits. Miami-Dade County also includes completely separate municipalities called Miami Beach, North Miami, Miami Springs, South Miami, North Miami Beach, Miami Shores, West Miami, Miami Lakes, and Miami Gardens. You’ve also got Hialeah and Hialeah Gardens, Biscayne Park and Key Biscayne, and Florida City – which I’m pretty sure is just what drunk Floridians call Miami. 

By the way, that arm wrestling video kicks butt, especially the dudes in the comments whining that iT’s JuSt TeChNiQuE. Okay then, work on your technique, jabronis!

Last year, Brazilian stuntman Luigi Cani did his part to help the Amazon by skydiving over the rainforest, scattering a box of 100 million… whats? Seeds

Impressive stunt. It’s nearly as impressive as Red Bull’s description of Luigi Cani: “The Germinator.” Who knew that Red Bull would be in the running for my top headline of the year?

It’s no laughing matter: The NIH says the most common arm wrestling injury is a spiral fracture of what largest and longest arm bone? Humerus

Good Clues for Specific Bones:

  • “No laughing matter,” “Kinda funny,” “Tee-hee,” etc. for HUMERUS 

Much Worse Clues for Other Specific Bones:

  • “Lying” for FIBULA
  • “Fishy” for CARPALS
  • Rockatansky” for MAXILLA

Pedantic Predicaments

A bogus urban legend says that the phrase “Wind, Reel, and Print” got condensed into what cliché line that the director yells at the end of a film production? Wrap

Ya gotta be careful with false etymologies. It’s so ubiquitous, it even has a whole Snopes section dedicated to it. For some reason, people are really fond of making up acronymic etymologies, and if you’ve read this column before, you’ll know I have no fondness for “backronyms.” Word nerds have been complaining about this for over a century.

So no, “posh” doesn’t mean “port out, starboard home,” “golf” doesn’t mean “gentlemen only, ladies forbidden,” and good lord, “news” doesn’t come from “north, east, west, south” or [sigh] “notable events, weather, and sports.” Rule of thumb: Unless you’re talking about a tragic scubalasersnafu, any acronymic etymology you come across in a Twitter post or on a Snapple cap will almost certainly be false. I won’t repeat the R-rated ones here, but at least those ones are entertaining.

Mark Gartsbeyn is a resident fact-checker at Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. He writes a weekly column on the idiosyncrasies of his work, which appears on Questionist each Wednesday.

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