The Naming Of Things, Like #nemo

The Weather Channel is the one behind the naming of Nemo. It’s not a US Weather service provided name.

Brian Stelter, Winter Storm’s Name Means Very Little

Many reporters and weather experts rolled their eyes at the name, just as they did when the channel’s storm-naming plan was announced in October. The common criticism is that it is a marketing ploy. The National Weather Service seems to agree; it has advised its forecasters not to follow the channel’s lead, and a spokesman said it had never named winter storms and had no plans to do so. (The New York Times advises reporters not to use the names in storm coverage.)

But the name game was catching on, as evidenced by the government officials, news media outlets and airlines that published advisories using the name. “We’re ready for Nemo,” the Twitter account for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, asserted on Thursday before listing all of the snow-removal tools at the city’s disposal.

Viewers and Web users seem to be playing along, too. Nemo was one of the top nationwide trends on Twitter on Friday.

“The fact is that Twitter needs a hashtag,” said Bryan Norcross, the Weather Channel meteorologist who helped conceive the storm-naming system. The main rationale for naming, he said, is to help raise awareness about the dangers of storms.

The name Nemo in Latin means “no one” or “no man.” Mr. Norcross said that derivation, not “Finding Nemo,” was part of the inspiration for the name, along with the Jules Verne character Captain Nemo from “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.”

For the record, the channel’s next names are Orko, Plato and Q. On Friday morning, The Weather Channel declared that Orko had been born: it will affect North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota this weekend.

In Genesis, Jehovah gave to Adam the power to name things:

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

which is a useful thing, even today, when it has lost its mystical attributes, perhaps. 

But yes, today we need good short names for every event, happening, storm, battle, genocide, trend: so we can hashtag them.

Interesting that Nemo means no one, isn’t it?

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