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Name Game 2011

What's in a name? This year, plenty of illegal, ironic and inappropriate behavior

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For those of us who keep track of aptronyms — by definition, people whose names match their professions, pursuits or personal proclivities — 2011 was a banner year like none in recent memory.

This year in the news, we saw photos and videotapes of a New York City police inspector named Tony Bologna, who pepper-sprayed a group of women at an Occupy Wall Street demonstration for no apparent reason.

We also learned of a gang of rogue Amish men who terrorized the Pennsylvania countryside, chopping off the beards and hair of their fellow Amish folk. Four of the seven scissors-wielding barbers all belong to the same family: the Mullets.

However, the hands-down “wiener” of the 2011 Aptronym of the Year Award goes to the man who, almost overnight, went from being a respected Democratic congressman from New York’s Ninth Congressional District to the punch line of countless late-night comedy acts: Anthony D. Weiner.

In June, Weiner admitted to sending inappropriate photos of his junk to six women over three years via email and Twitter. The scandal, dubbed “Weinergate,” led to the congressman’s resignation.

This year’s news also produced a few aptronyms involving men who behaved badly. They include Michael Childs, the 49-year-old man from Huntsville, Ala., who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his involvement in a global child-pornography ring. Childs can only pray he’s assigned to a solo cell.

Then there was Owen Honors, the now-disgraced U.S. Navy captain who was relieved of his command of the USS Enterprise after he created a series of lewd and homophobic videos that aired on the ship’s closed-circuit television on Saturday nights. Honors’ explanation: It was all harmless fun to boost crew morale. Apparently, fag jokes and simulated rectal exams are what pass for fun on an aircraft carrier once the sailors tire of the on-board movie theater and bowling alley.

Not all of the aptronyms that hit the radar this year were of the sordid variety. Others include:

Scott Borg: international cyber-security expert

James Careless: a freelance writer who specializes in medical first-responder communications issues

Carl Coker: Island Pond man arrested by the Vermont State Police in November and charged with drug manufacturing

Alex Comfort: author of The New Joy of Sex

Patti Cook: recipe developer for Eating Well magazine

Steve Cook and Erica Houskeeper: Deputy commissioner and director of communications, respectively, for the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing

Linda Cruise: communications and special projects coordinator for the Vermont Institute on the Caribbean

Bob Degree: Colchester refrigerator repairman

Rosemary Gladstar: a Vermont herbalist and gardener

Jennifer Green: the city of Burlington’s environmental specialist

Lucy Herring: Vermont Fish and Wildlife law-enforcement assistant

You-Ran Lee: a runner in the 2011 Burlington City Marathon

Patrick Lemon: produce manager at the Price Chopper in Essex

Gregory Payne: founder and president of Payne Emergency Medical Services, a Bennington ambulance company that went out of business in February

Larry Plesent: founder of the Vermont Soap Company, which produces organic and hypoallergenic products that also smell nice

Andrew Snow: director of services at Bolton Valley ski resort

Paula Traynor: In 2010, she weighed almost 300 pounds. This year, Traynor was down to 167 pounds and ran half the Burlington City Marathon.

Shawn R. Vandal: a Wilmington, Vt., man accused of burglarizing 14 local homes between November 15 and December 15, usually by smashing their windows with a tire iron

Debora Washington: FEMA worker

Andy Watts: chair of Essex Energy Committee

Rick Wood: tree specialist with Hivernant Arborists

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