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Last Updated: May 19, 2017

Wizard Of Odds Weekly Update May 19, 2017



When I heard that we started putting out a newsletter I volunteered to write a column for it. It is nice to write for a newsletter again. At the Wizard of Odds, my former partner Michael Bluejay and I did a newsletter from 2003 to 2009. You can find most of them in our newsletter archive. Each one of them contained a custom article by myself and sometimes one by Michael Bluejay, who is an expert on all kinds of topics. Sadly, many of them only prove I was a diehard Survivor fan back in those years. What is even sadder is that I recently applied to be on Survivor and didn't even get the courtesy of a rejection but no response at all. My audition video is so boring that they probably never reached the end.

The big excitement for me the last week was I made the Wall Street Journal. The front page even. For those who don't know, before I was the "Wizard of Odds," you might have called me the wizard of baby names. I was the first person in the U.S. to publish lists of the most popular baby names based on a nationwide sampling. When I first did so, I made no big deal about it, just put up a list on my now-defunct personal web site back in 1997. A major reason for doing so is that we were expecting our first child and as a Michael I didn't want to burden him or her with a popular name. However, I had no idea what the popular names were in the mid 90's. As a Social Security actuary I had access to the perfect data, Social Security card applications, to answer the question. As long as I answered it for myself, I thought the rest of the world would be interested too. They were.

To make a long story short, Social Security continues to carry the torch of publishing the most popular baby names. Every year around Mothers Day they publish an updated list of the most popular names from the previous year. Plus they have lots of other ways to research any given name or year, going back to 1880.
The thrust of the Wall Street Journal story is the declining popularity of my own name and what I may have had to do with it. If you have an online subscription to the Wall Street Journal, the name of the article has been changed to Parents Don’t Want to Name Their Kids Mike Anymore. If you don't have a subscription, I posted screenshots and scans of the article at Wizard of Vegas.

For any expecting parents receiving this newsletter, I love to help pick baby names. Considering putting up a poll of your top ten and let the whole forum help.
Until next week, may the odds be with you.