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These Names Are A Chip Off The Old Blockhead

Thu., Feb. 15, 1996

Except for playing solitaire and writing deep thoughts, I’ve always thought computers were the world’s biggest wastes of time.

Lord only knows how many glassy-eyed cyber nerds have surfed off on the Internet never to return to dry land.

Thanks to a revealing new Name Change Game, I now consider the computer more of a microscope into the human soul than even astrology or palm reading.

My change of heart is due to Steve Rushing, a Sports Illustrated writer with way too much time on his hands.

While loafing in a hotel room, Rushing started running names of famous athletes through his computer spell-check.

Spell-check is a program common to word processing. The software identifies misspelled words and then offers suggestions for correct spellings.

Rushing’s computer came up with some positively eerie changes.

For example: Orenthal Simpson, who sat for a year before Judge Lance Ito, turned into “Oriental Symposium.”

Monotone former tennis ace Bjorn Borg was aptly translated into “Born Bore.” Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins, once busted for coke, was renamed “Forgo Junkies.”

For unknown metaphysical reasons, the computer gods crystallize character and cough up new names that “fit the person better than his or her own,” Rushing observed.

Fascinating, I muttered, but can the microchip muse give Spokane fresh insight into those who lead us? With fingers trembling, I typed the name of our hot-headed police chief, Terence Mangan. The chief once suspended himself for roughing up a teenager who gave him the finger.

Out popped Mangan’s new spell-check identity: “Tolerance Mangling.”

After that revelation there was no stopping me: Impulsive County Commissioner Steve Hasson has been in more hot water than a tea bag. Days after blasting judges for discounting traffic tickets, he tried to get the court to show favoritism to a constituent cited for speeding. Voters would agree that “Stifle Hissing” is a fitting new name for the commish.

Homophobic County Coroner Dexter Amend tries to tie sodomy to every tragedy, including the Challenger explosion. I combined the coroner’s first and last name to get a diagnosis for why Amend’s brain cells are so weak. “Deoxygenated,” the computer wrote.

Spokane sports mogul Bobby Brett sold the name of beloved Indians Stadium to a bank. Well, Bobby, the computer has a new name for you - “Robber Brat.”

The agony of pounding up Doomsday Hill is reflected in “Download Croaking,” Spokane Bloomsday founder Donald Kardong’s computer ID.

County Commissioner Phil Harris combs what few locks he has left into a little wavy mound atop his head. “Uphill Hairs,” is what you get when you run Harris’ name through spell-check.

That Spokane Councilman Orville Barnes is no Einstein doesn’t escape the computer, which dubbed him “Revile Brains.”

Toadish Gov. Mike Lowry paid off a former aide after she accused him of sexual harassment. The computer gave me “Got Lawyer” for Gov. Lowry.

Any skeptics will be silenced by the computer’s rechristening of Allen Schweim. He’s the Spokane Transit Authority director who gave taxpayers the downtown bus station boondoggle to the tune of $20-plus million. Two words, says the computer: “Alien Screwing.”

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I can dish it out, but can I take it? Sure. I asked the computer to give my name a whirl.

Doug Clark came out “Dog Shark.”

It’s not very flattering, but I’m actually relieved. I know “Tolerance Mangling” and “Stifle Hissing” have probably called me a lot worse.

, DataTimes

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