Functional naming

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The start of today's SMBC:

The punch line:

Mouseover title: "We'll keep having more kids until we reach Benjamoptimal."

The aftercomic:


  1. Philip Taylor said,

    December 20, 2018 @ 6:50 am

    Well, to my ear, "Benjamin" and "Benjamax" are alliterative, despite his response in frame three …

  2. Yerushalmi said,

    December 20, 2018 @ 7:17 am

    Presumably the intention is that he didn't choose those names for the sake of being alliterative.

  3. Philip Taylor said,

    December 20, 2018 @ 7:32 am

    Ah, but he's "a mathematician who thinks in clear logical terms", so he would have interpreted "alliterative names" as "names that alliterate", not as "names that were chosen for their alliteracy" !

  4. Yuval said,

    December 20, 2018 @ 11:40 am

    Team Philip.
    Also note how the stem Benja- retains the m as a filler for the title text pun only, being the only suffix beginning with a vowel.

  5. David Morris said,

    December 20, 2018 @ 6:08 pm

    Next, triplet girls named Cosette, Sinette and Tanette.

  6. Ran Ari-Gur said,

    December 20, 2018 @ 9:16 pm

    Andrew and Orrew, or Andrea and Orrea, would also make good pairs. All four names are actually attested, and the pairs neither (quite) rhyme nor (quite) alliterate. Very logical!

  7. KevinM said,

    December 21, 2018 @ 11:16 am

    Bemused by "froo-froo," I almost missed the joke. I was familiar with froufrou, or frou-frou, meaning frilly or fancy, especially in relation to fashion (M-W says it may be onomatopeia for the rustling of skirts).
    Googling, however, I see "froo-froo drinks" used as a term for sweet alcoholic concoctions (you know, the kind with little umbrellas).

  8. Kevin McNulty said,

    December 21, 2018 @ 11:18 am

    *onomatopoeia, obviously.

  9. Fritz said,

    December 21, 2018 @ 12:43 pm

    The Math Department at the University of Washington had two intramural sports teams: The Cardinals and the Ordinals. (For those who might not get the humour, 'Cardinals' is a very common sports team name in North America.)

  10. Trogluddite said,

    December 21, 2018 @ 12:50 pm

    I think the joke would work equally well with 'computer programmer' substituted for 'mathematician'. I was instantly reminded of the famous quote attributed to Phil Karlton; “There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things.” I'm quite fond of using my own silly little names for meta-variables instead of the boring-old "foo", "bar", etc. when writing short API examples, so "Benjamin" and "Benjamax" aren't too far from being the kind of program element name you might see in my code editor from time to time!

  11. Rob said,

    December 22, 2018 @ 5:10 pm

    Best thread this year!

  12. mg said,

    December 24, 2018 @ 1:40 pm

    @Fritz – my son's math dept also comes up with great team names, as does my biostatistics department. Clearly, mathematicians are brilliant namers.

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