Uncle Sam Solves the Curse of the Hypenated Name?

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I long for the day when I will no longer have to spell out my hideously cumbersome name for clerical workers, security officials, or hotel clerks. Sooner or later, I hope to have a chip implanted on my person that carries relevant data on public frequencies–and possible a little preprogrammed explanation of the name's origins ("No, Mangu is my mother's name–it's Romanian. Ward was my father's name. They were hippies, or feminists, or something, so I got both"). Until then, at least, I can renew my passport and get one of the 15 million electronic passports planned for release. German chipmaker Infineon announced today that passports containing its chips will be available by the end of the year. The chips will hold name, date of birth, issue date, and a picture–all readable by scanner.

Brian Doherty has written tons on worries about RFID in government hands. If you're with Brian, and really don't like having a chip in your passport (and your name is something simple to spell, like John Smith or Brian Doherty) you can always pop your passport in the microwave for a few minutes to kill the chip, then go wait in the line with all the analog losers.

NEXT: Kudlow Agonistes

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  1. I have three letters in my last name… and it’s frequently misspelled. I’m going with the chip.

  2. Ah, but can any computer handle people who go by their middle names? I think not.

  3. “No, Mangu is my mother’s name–it’s Romanian. Ward was my father’s name. They were hippies, or feminists, of something, so I got both”

    When that fad first started, there was a woman in our office who insisted on using a cumbersome hyphenated version of her last name. We retaliated by simply calling her “Dash”. Nobody ever had to ask who you were referring to.

    Hyphenated names ought to be outlawed for anyone who isn’t an English Lord.

  4. I echo Pro L. My husband goes by his middle name and I never changed my last name. This is an excellent system for catching telemarketers and fakey junk mail — I hang up on anyone who addresses me as “Mrs. Hisname,” or asks for “John” instead of “Steve.” Still, it’s a royal headache when dealing with anything like credit card companies or the passport service. We got passports for our sons, and having two different last names was a real bitch, even though we didn’t inflict a hyphen on the boys. They just got Steve’s last name. To their credit, the actual humans at the passport office made that part of it easy, but boy did we have agony getting to that point.

  5. Pig Mannix has it right that the hyphen is the problem.

    Katherine,
    How about you lose the hyphen, take a lesson in names from Ma Barker, shuffle some letters, and change your name to Ma Drawgun?
    … Just trying to be helpful.

  6. The hyphenated surname always seemed a little short-sighted to me. What did these hippies (or whoever it was) expect to happen when the next generation married?

    “I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.” [pause] “Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to present to you the new Mr. and Mrs. Lewis-King-Adams-Young.”

  7. The women of course are using their father’s name, not theirs, in their half.

    Wodehouse was into hyphenated names for comic effect, and it still works today.

  8. When that fad first started, there was a woman in our office who insisted on using a cumbersome hyphenated version of her last name. We retaliated by simply calling her “Dash”. Nobody ever had to ask who you were referring to.

    Hyphenated names ought to be outlawed for anyone who isn’t an English Lord.

    i’m not familiar enough with pig mannix’s postings to know if he’s serious or not. it didn’t seem sarcastic or ironic, so much as mean-spirited, closed-minded and sad, but i could be wrong and i’d hate to misinterpret a clever, hilarious witticism.

    -cab

  9. Anything that exposes government incompetence can’t be all bad.

  10. Here’s a different spin on hyphenates: The mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, was Antonio Villar before he married Connie Raigosa.

  11. i’m not familiar enough with pig mannix’s postings to know if he’s serious or not. it didn’t seem sarcastic or ironic, so much as mean-spirited, closed-minded and sad, but i could be wrong and i’d hate to misinterpret a clever, hilarious witticism.

    No mistake – I *am* sarcastic, mean-spirited, closed-minded and sad.

    So sue me, already.

  12. and your name is something simple to spell, like John Smith or Brian Doherty

    I can’t spell dorety.

    what the fuck does these mean anyway?

  13. “The hyphenated surname always seemed a little short-sighted to me. What did these hippies (or whoever it was) expect to happen when the next generation married?”

    The Icelandic phone directory is alphabetical by first name.
    The point is we humanoids can handle whatever complexities we choose to burden ourselves with.
    Don’ wurry, mon. Be hoppy.

  14. I’m all for the chips. Once I get mine and monkey around with it a little, I too can be Katherine Mangu-Ward. Heck, Katherine Mangu-Wards for everybody!

  15. there was a woman in our office who insisted on using a cumbersome hyphenated version of her last name. We retaliated by simply calling her “Dash”. Nobody ever had to ask who you were referring to.

    There’s a KAS-H in my office! But she might have instigated that acronym herself.

    The women of course are using their father’s name, not theirs, in their half.

    No, it’s their name too. Is your surname any less yours because it was your father’s as well, Ron?

    And good-on-ya for not changing your name, Karen.

    I’ve been meaning to renew my passport…

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