March 12th, 2010

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What's In a Name?

I've sometimes found my last name misspelled, and I tended to assume that this was party because it isn't really a common one. Well, I went to http://www.census.gov/genealogy/names/dist.all.last and discovered that BURSTEIN is actually the 20,352nd most common surname in the USA. Here's what else I found:

BERNSTEIN is the 2,098th most common US surname
BURSTEIN is the 20,352nd most common US surname
BERSTEIN is the 38,576th most common US surname
BURNSTEIN is the 65,237th most common US surname

So I can understand why people might, on hearing my last name, spell it as BERNSTEIN...but why is it that people who see my name on the Internet tend to retype it as BURNSTEIN? That's far less common!
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Kate Milford on the Nebula Nominees

Author Kate Milford (whose novel The Boneshaker will be out in May) has decided to blog about the current Nebula nominees in short fiction. In her first post on the topic, she discusses the nominees in Short Story, including "I Remember the Future," and has some fascinating things to say about all of them. Here's what she says in summary:


These are stories about identity. They’re about what it means to be the man or woman who you think you are, or who you want to be: a writer, a futurist, a physician, a good Muslim, a father or a mother, a husband or a wife, your own person, a legacy, a love, a family. Free to choose. Alive, or just surviving. Human, or not. They’re about what it means to belong, or not. They’re about how you maintain yourself, the person you believe you are, the way you want yourself to be–how you do that when the world you inhabit, whether it’s a city or a tiny life raft or a space exploration program, seems bent on turning you into something else. It’s about the things you do, from simple decisions made to extraordinary actions taken, to stay true to the person you know yourself–or want yourself–to be.


If you're interested in this year's Nebula nominees, her post is most definitely worth reading. You can find it here:

The Informed Voter Project, Part the First: The Nebula Award Short Story Finalists