Anger over Cecil the lion isn’t about Cecil the lion

People have already begun to question the anger over the killing of Cecil, a lion that lived quite happily in a Zimbabwe national park until Walter J. Palmer, a Minnesota dentist originally from North Dakota shot Cecil on a hunting trip.

Walter Palmer, left, a dentist in Bloomington, Minn., is pictured with a dead lion in 2008. (Photo Submitted by Trophy Hunt America)

Walter Palmer, left, a dentist in Bloomington, Minn., is pictured with a dead lion in 2008. (Photo Submitted by Trophy Hunt America)

Why do people care so much about a lion?

The answer is simple: mostly, they don’t. It’s not about lion. It’s never really been about the lion.

Instead, Cecil’s death was the result of a number of converging factors, and I would argue that these are issues that people should care about and discuss.

Conservation

A number of people were horrified to find out that lions are still hunted at all, given how few of them are left, and have taken a position against all lion hunting. Some have extended this to big game hunting in general. (I personally would have to study this issue a lot more before I would assent to that.)

However, the question is worth asking: What is the place of big game hunting in the modern world, particularly for endangered species?

Imperialism

A number of people are uneasy that an apparently wealthy, white American paid an enormous sum, significantly more than many people’s annual income, to visit a foreign country and shoot an animal beloved there.

Zimbabwe seems to need the income these foreign tourist-hunters provide, but in the long run is that what’s best for Zimbabwe? And merely asking that question is incredibly presumptuous as well, because Americans should not get to decide how Zimbabwe manages its wildlife, its money or its tourists.

Yet it can certainly be argued that this specific type of tourism is preying on a nation suffering endemic poverty.

However, the question is worth asking: What is the place of American tourists and foreign hunting tourism in Zimbabwe and other disadvantaged countries?

Hunting ethics

Quite a few people, including Gov. Dayton of Minnesota, have pointed out that the alleged behavior of the hunting party in question wasn’t very sporting. And indeed there are quite a few details of this particular hunt that seem to have not been in keeping with good hunting practices:

  • Deliberately luring an animal out of a park where it was protected. This is legal in Zimbabwe, but that does not mean it is ethical.
  • Shooting an animal wearing a scientific research collar. We don’t know how visible the collar was.
  • Illegally hunting. There was no quota for a lion on that land, meaning it was an illegal hunt under Zimbabwe law.
  • Wounding an animal and then waiting 40 hours to kill it. Perhaps it took that long to find the lion; I haven’t seen information on that.

However, the question is worth asking: What constitutes ethical hunting behavior, and is it appropriate to bait animals to get them off protected grounds?

Online threats

The dentist who shot Cecil has been violently threatened and his business was flooded with negative reviews after word got out about the hunt. How seriously should we take online threats, and what can be done to protect people under extreme forms of attack?

Laws abroad

Traveling hunters usually rely on local hunters to know rules and regulations, according to a recent Reuters story. It is not yet clear in this case who is responsible for breaking the rules. How can travelers ensure they properly follow local laws and avoid situations like these?

No bleeding heart required

Discussion of all these issues isn’t a waste of time. It’s not based on feeling pity for the poor lion that got suckered into becoming a trophy, or anger at hunting in general.

Instead, Cecil’s death has served as a touchstone of sorts for these issues, an event we can use to discuss and measure the values of various positions we take.

For example, we can weigh the ethical merits of spotlighting deer and baiting bears with reference to the way the hunting party in Cecil’s case used a carcass to draw him straight to the guns. Are these practices right? Whether legal or not, are they ethical? Where do we draw the line?

You don’t have to care about lions, or Cecil, to care about these issues. Good hunters already care. Responsible travelers already care.

It was never about the lion.

Boobs, boobs, boobs: Stop policing breastfeeding moms!

Breasts are for feeding babies.

For some reason, people sometimes need to be reminded of this; for example, a woman in Moorhead was asked to cover up when she began breastfeeding her 11-month-old baby at a public pool. It turned out okay, but it’s still a symptom of a weird cultural problem we have.

Breasts aren’t inherently sexual, and when you look at it, everyone already knows it. That’s why men are socially and legally allowed to be seen in public topless. Yes, those are also breasts, and no, it’s not size-dependent, either, because men with large breasts are allowed to go out topless and women with small ones are not. So it’s entirely dependent on gender, not size.

That’s creepy. Women’s bodies aren’t more sexual than men’s bodies.

And America is fairly odd in its sexualization of breasts. Historically they haven’t always been considered sexual; in many cultures women routinely go topless and topless/nude beaches can be found all over the place in the modern world. It’s a weird social quirk that Americans have that the rest of the world does not necessarily share; I remember being slightly surprised once when a woman changed her shirt in the public part of a Helsinki airport bathroom. No one else noticed or cared.

Breasts are for feeding babies. Nothing wrong with finding them sexy, of course; some people dig eyes, some people dig feet and probably there are people out there who dig noses.

But sexualizing breasts at all times and in all places isn’t good. One, it’s deeply creepy to sexualize women’s breasts, but not men’s, at all times and in all places. Two, it hurts breastfeeding moms. And three, it hurts their infants, too.

Incidents like these are why a breastfeeding mom I know had to cram herself into a restroom at Target with a baby, a baby-carrier and a diaper bag to try to feed the hungry baby amid nasty smells and constant flushing noises.

The science all points to breast milk being the best for babies. Plus, using formula will get you endless amounts of shame for being a bad mom from those Tina Fey called the “teat nazis.” And you can’t just hide in your home for a year or more and wait for your baby to be weaned, because babies need diapers and clothes and powder and lotion and shampoo and ointment and bottles and lots and lots of washcloths and all these things need to be bought and retrieved.

Would anyone seriously advocate putting moms under effective house arrest, anyway? They’re people, not cattle.

As Jurassic World showed, you don’t raise a dinosaur alone in captivity; do we want half-crazed isolated moms rampaging through town ripping down fences, attacking animals and picking fights with T-rexes?

All joking aside, half the population sees breasts any time they look in the mirror anyway. It shouldn’t be a big deal for them or the other half of the population to see a female breast in public occasionally, any more than it is to see a male breast.

And it should especially not be a big deal to see a breast used for its major purpose, which is feeding a baby.

Confederate Flags in Minnesota: WHAT WERE THEY THINKING.

Even if you somehow still believe the Confederate battle flag doesn’t symbolize racism and white supremacy (sorry, but to many, many people it does) and even if you think it should be legal for private individuals to fly on their own property as a form of free speech, there’s still absolutely no way anyone in the state of Minnesota should be flying that flag.

Depicts the First Minnesota. http://www.mnopedia.org/multimedia/battle-gettysburg-oil-painting-rufus-zogbaum

Depicts the First Minnesota. http://www.mnopedia.org/multimedia/battle-gettysburg-oil-painting-rufus-zogbaum

It is unquestionably profoundly cruel to black people and other minorities to fly that flag, but it’s also incredibly, incredibly disrespectful to Minnesota and its veterans.

You don’t have to be keen on Minnesota history to know that Minnesota was the first state to offer troops to President Lincoln to fight with the Union in the Civil War. All you have to do is graduate from sixth grade in Minnesota, since this is a fact taught in the standard Minnesota history class that year, along with information about the voyageurs, the wild rice trade, logging, and Pig’s Eye. (That’s the former name of St. Paul. No, seriously.)

The first group, the appropriately named First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, among many others, fought in the Battle of Gettysburg.

What they don’t tell 12-year-olds is that on the second day of the battle of Gettysburg, the First Minnesota held the line against the Confederates, despite having the highest casualty rate in the entire Union army– 83%. They charged into a situation where they were outnumbered four-to-one.

They went anyway, and most of them died fighting against everything the Confederate battle flag stands for.

First Minnesota is legendary for its heroism at Gettysburg.

Minnesota helped elect Lincoln. Minnesota, barely even a state at the time, sent 11 infantry regiments, 2 companies of sharpshooters, units of artillery and cavalry and sailors too, plus the men who served in the African American units.

More than 2,500 Minnesotans died in that war, fighting against the Confederates. Flying the Confederate flag in this state is disgusting, and not only is it a declaration of hostility to minorities, it’s a slap in the face to the First Volunteer Volunteer Infantry Regiment and to the entire state of Minnesota and all its heritage.

How much is the life of a mentally ill person worth?

A man allowed his brother to freeze to death and only got a one-year sentence for it.

If that’s not enough to make you angry, that one year isn’t a year in prison or even a year in jail; it’s a year of probation.

Bruce Simmons’ frozen body was emaciated, dressed only in a makeshift diaper, and he was covered in rodent bites and frostbite marks, surrounded in garbage. His brother Ronald “cared” for him by passing him one meal a day through the front door.

Yet apparently, Ronald didn’t want to seek residential treatment for Bruce, who suffered from mental illness, either. Now Bruce is dead, and Ronald has to complete a year of probation.

For comparison, here is a case of one man stabbing another man to death. He got 8 years in prison. The cases aren’t strictly comparable — the second case doesn’t involve brothers and doesn’t involve a person made vulnerable by mental illness. It involves a direct cause of death rather than an indirect one.

However, in both cases the victims are equally dead, and in both cases the accused killers have received their sentences: 8 years in prison for one death and 1 year of probation for the other.

People with mental illnesses are far more likely to be the victims of a crime than they are to be perpetrators. And sentences like these do not help move us away from the abhorrent idea that people with mental illnesses are somehow less than healthy people.

Review: Jurassic World hit me right in the nostalgia

howardNothing could have matched the original Jurassic Park, but Jurassic World danced so well along the line between charming nostalgia and modern adventure flick that nobody should really care.

The movie was absolutely successful in capturing the feel of the original Jurassic Park, which all of its other sequels utterly failed to do, and made seeing dinosaurs amazing and awe-inspiring all over again, despite the proliferation of realistic-looking cinematic monsters. And it brought back some of the most beautiful touches from the first film, too – for example, a moment where you’re reminded the dinosaurs are living, breathing animals instead of just terrifying monster things out to eat the protagonists.

The dinosaurs are fantastic, and not just in a “movie monsters” way. The movie takes time to make them real animals, and each is a character. The velociraptors are terrifyingly intelligent pack hunters; the T-rex is a majestic killing machine; the triceratops are gentle.

Sprinkled throughout the film are a series of homages to the original, some subtle and some less so. I won’t spoil them for you, but one was already given away by the trailers and most of the posters – the corporate leader in the park wears white, just as John Hammond did in the original.

Then there are a number of occasions in the movie where the film doesn’t take quite the usual action flick route.

prattThe park’s owner is an incredibly rich guy who actually, shockingly, isn’t a horrible person focused on money. The kids in the movie are less annoying than your usual movie children, although like all movie children the younger one has too much hair.

The adult protagonists, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) aren’t complete cardboard stereotypes either. Sure, Owen’s a tough former Navy guy on a motorcycle, but he cares about animals; sure, Claire is career-oriented, but she is absolutely able to hold her own in a dangerous situation. And unlike some reviews have said, she’s not a damsel in distress in this movie, but an active character who makes decisions and acts on them.

That’s not to say the movie is perfect. There were a few missteps.

  • Someone needs to tell Hollywood movie execs that we heartless career women very often have a pair of tennis shoes or hiking boots under our desks. Throughout the movie, Claire runs around in high heels without a misstep. While there are actually women who can do this, the fact that the actress had to train for it as if she were running a marathon should tell you it’s a little bit unusual. And then to do it in a jungle?
  • Another thing: The kids in the movie were okay, but there was a thoroughly unnecessary “let’s-worry-about-our-parents’-marriage” subplot with them that seems to be present in every action movie lately. It doesn’t really harm the movie, but it wasn’t needed.
  • Then there’s the one-note villain. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it; you’ll know who this is the second he steps on the stage anyway. It’s about as subtle as an angry T-rex.
  • The score shines, but it shines most when it’s using pieces from the Jurassic Park score by John Williams. Next time, steal more; you had the rights anyway. Why not pull in some of the lesser-used themes and bump them up? Petticoat Lane, anyone?

But the missteps weren’t enough to kill the sense of wonder we all felt when John Hammond first said “Welcome… to Jurassic Park.”

And that’s what this movie does: It brings back the wonder and the excitement of Jurassic Park and turns you right back into a 12-year-old. Enjoy it.

dino

15 UND nicknames left! Whimsy, blandness, lots of hawks.

The Final Fifteen UND nicknames have been chosen, and as has been the case in everyUND logo_1_0_10 round of cuts, my personal favorites have been tossed out.

Alas, Abdominal Snowman, Yetis and Wooly Mammoths. We hardly knew ye.

The last 15 names, in alphabetical order:

Blaze: I’ve come around a little bit on this one. It’s not a bad name, and while it’s a little abstract it’s much easier to visualize, draw and personify than, say, “spirit.”

Cavalry: No. Native American names being replaced by names of people famous for killing them is not helpful.

Explorers: While this name sounds neutral, I can’t help feeling it’s associated with white people who came and “explored” ground that native peoples had been living on and had explored pretty thoroughly themselves already. At the same time, as noted before, Sakakawea is just one very famous Native American explorer, so it can definitely not be said to be all about the white people, or the men.

fightinggreenFighting Green: The fighting green what? Green is an adjective, unless it refers to part of a golf course. Why would part of a golf course fight? And “fighting” just seems too much like the old nickname anyway.

Fighting Hawks: Kind of boring. And you’d hope “Hawks” won’t just turn into the Blackhawks’ Indian-head logo, but it sure could.

Force: The Fargo Force might object, and fans here might object to being associated with Fargo, too.

Green Hawks: Definitely one of the better “Hawk” names, it’s unusual but still recognizable. Hopefully this isn’t another backdoor way to get the Blackhawks mascot in the door.

Nodaks: I still don’t know what a Nodak is. Nobody’s explained it yet, either.

North Dakota: Boring, and it doesn’t give sports writers any alternatives, either. How many times can you put “North Dakota” and “UND” in a single paragraph before it gets repetitive? Not many. And you can’t really visualize it, although I suppose you could build a North Dakota costume shaped like the state.

North Stars: It’s still Minnesota’s motto, guys. This is exactly like naming yourselves the200px-Minnesota_North_Stars_Logo_2.svg Gophers and calling it a win.

Pride: People are citing this name as a way to stealthily “keep” the old nickname (as well as the “North Dakota” and “Spirit” alternatives). Totally aside from that, though, pride is one of the seven deadly sins, and not only that, but it is the most serious of them. It’s great to be proud of your school, but “pride” in itself has some extremely negative associations. Besides, how many signs saying “PRIDE GOETH BEFORE DESTRUCTION” do you want to see at your hockey games? (No, it does not goeth before a fall. A haughty spirit goeth before a fall; people just misquote it a lot.)

Roughriders: I suppose we can put up with the double entendres. It might be worth it, because it is a nicely thematic name, after all. I’ve warmed up to it a little bit.

Spirit: I don’t know why you’d want to bring religion, or another name for booze, into a sports contest. And this is another one people cite as “we can still use the old name with this!” which doesn’t seem constructive at this point in the process.

sundogsSundogs: I’ve warmed up to this one, since it’s one of the only charmingly eccentric names left on the list. The Arizona Sundogs were a minor league hockey team at one
point, but the team opted for dormancy last year (admittedly this is according to Wikipedia).

Thunder Hawks: Less distinctive than “Green Hawks,” yes, but it’s kind of okay.

Here’s the TL;DR version of my own personal opinions, which, again, are not those of the Herald or anybody else:

Good:
Blaze
Roughriders
Sundogs

Meh:
Explorers
Fighting Hawks
Green Hawks
Thunder Hawks

Bad:
Cavalry
Fighting Green
Force
Nodaks
North Dakota
North Stars
Pride
Spirit

What do you think?

If we have to pick a new name, which of these would you go with? Please don’t answer with either “none,” or any variant on the old nickname. It’s been said and that’s not the topic of this post.

However, if you’d like to discuss the old nickname I’d encourage you to post on one of the threads on the subject on the Herald’s Facebook page; here’s one. Thanks!

UND Nickname Analysis: All the Rest, and David Hasselhoff

Knight Rider

Knight Rider

Night Riders: What would David Hasselhoff say? Leaving off the K isn’t going to be enough to avoid comparisons, is it?

Riders: Could potentially have some inappropriate connotations, just like “Rough Riders.”

Snow Dogs: A little unusual, but still easy to recognize and fierce/cute as is needed.

Spirit: I may be prejudiced by having seen “The Spirit” movie, which was entirely awful, but I don’t like this name much, as I mentioned before. It’s fine on its own, but almost any visualization of it will be offensive to some religion or another.

Live and Let Die

Live and Let Die

Thunder Hawks: A few other teams use this mascot, but it’s not that distinctive, either.

Warhawks: “War” isn’t really a connotation we need for sports.

Wings: Well, I do like “Live and Let Die” a whole lot.

Wool(l?)y Mammoth: I actually like this one. It’s unusual, but it’s also a fierce beast comfortable in cold climates, and bonus, it is larger and scarier than a bison. The downside would be all the extinction jokes.

Fighting Greens: Greens are lettuce, guys. “Fighting Green” could be a team; “fighting greens” would be a belligerent salad.

Previous analysis of the other UND nickname possibilities can be found here and here.

Feel free to disagree with me in the comments, but stay civil, and please, nothing about the old nickname. This thread’s not about that; if you wish, I can direct you to other threads where you can make those comments freely, though.

UND Nicknames: A Short List Is Out!

Well, the first short list of UND nicknames is out! Most of the ones I picked out aren’t on the list, which is probably for the best.

Also, they’ve only gone through nicknames starting with 0-G, plus a few H-names. A few of the ones that are left are ones I mentioned, but a lot aren’t, too, which makes sense–I only got to a tiny fraction of the ones on the original list. Specifically, I wrote about these:

  • Aeronauts/Aeros
  • Aurora
  • Badlanders
  • Blizzard
  • Bombers
  • Drillers
  • Fighting Anything (Fighting Green, Fighting Green Hawks, Fighting Hawks made the cut)
  • Fire
  • Flames
  • Flickertails

The Names That Made It That I Didn’t Mention Earlier

And some comments…

I’m still not making a specific endorsement. Views expressed here are mine, not those of the Grand Forks Herald.

  • Arctic Blaze: Seems like an oxymoron to me, but maybe that’s why it’s cool.
  • Arctic Force: Someone has pointed out there’s a Fargo team called the Force, so I feel like we should skip this one.
  • Aviators: I just like Aeronauts better, honestly. Isn’t Aviators a brand of sunglasses?
  • Big Green: Reminds me of gum.
  • Bison Slayers: Much too specific. Our NDSU rivals might get a big head from all the attention!
  • Blackhawks: Oh, I get it, it’s another hockey team with an Indian-head logo. Let’s not start this whole thing over again.
  • Blaze: I’m not the only one who remembers the Paul Newman movie called “Blaze,” in which the title character is an exotic dancer, am I? It wasn’t a good movie.
  • Blazing Stars: Also the name of a cute yellow plant. But it does sound cool, doesn’t it?
  • Blizzard Dogs: Odd combination.
  • Bombardiers: Like Bombers, but since it’s not a modern word, this one might be a little better?
  • Cavalry: Is a group notorious for fighting the Native Americans really a good option in this instance?
  • Charging Nokota: Supposedly this is referring to the Nokota horses, but Nakota is also a name for a Native American people (more commonly known as the Assiniboine). So again, I’d avoid this.
  • Energy: Very abstract, but maybe we could use a little lightning bolt or something. It’s very thematically appropriate!
  • Explorers: Still probably a good idea to avoid this period in the state’s history, given that there were already plenty of native people here when white people came to “explore.” On the other hand, Sakakawea was also one of the explorers.
  • Fighting Green: Abstract and a little bit confusing. When used as a noun, “green” usually refers to a golfing surface.
  • Fighting Green Hawks: This would look cool, and hawks aren’t normally green, so it would be unusual.
  • Fighting Hawks: I’m still not liking the “fighting” moniker, purely because it’s too associated with the old name. And “hawks” seems like it could turn back to the Blackhawks Indian-head logo.
  • Fliers: Again, I just like Aeronauts better.
  • Force: See Arctic Force.
  • Force of North: See Arctic Force.
  • Global Hawks: This smacks too much of foreign policy, since the word “hawks” usually is used to label people who are in favor of war. I could be wrong, though.
  • Green Bombers: See Bombers in the other post.
  • Green Hawks: I like it better than Fighting Green Hawks. It’s a little unusual but still recognizable.
  • Green Pride: See Pride in the other post.
  • Grey Hawks: Would make Dungeons & Dragons fans happy. Greyhawk is the main setting for much of the world D&D takes place in.

 

Of these, I like: Aeronauts/Aeros, Blazing Stars, Green Hawks.

Though I also don’t mind: Blizzard, Bombardiers, Energy.

Which of my picks do you hate? Which do you like?

If we have to pick a new name, what nickname do you want to go with? (And please don’t answer with either “none,” or any variant on the old nickname. There are lots of other places to discuss that; I recommend the Herald’s Facebook page.)

UND Nickname List: Analysis of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Looking for a nickname, UND accepted suggestions from the public, and came up with a long list of nickname possibilities (more than 1,000), as well as a long list of suggestions that won’t be considered.

Many of the suggestions are great, but a few joke names (intended to raise the hackles of NDSU fans, poke fun at UND fans or perhaps somehow undermine the school) did get through, as far as I can tell.

UND logo_1_0_10I’m going to pull out a few suggested names here that are interesting, either for positive or negative reasons and write about them.

Let me be clear here: I am not taking a position here on choosing a name. I’m not taking specific position on anything. Views expressed here are mine, not those of the Grand Forks Herald. I’m probably not even going to read the whole list. And you’re free to disagree with me in the comments, as long as you’re polite and civil, not vulgar and don’t make personal attacks.

Abdominal Snowmen: Assuming this person meant “abominable” instead of “abdominal,” this is a cool suggestion. Unfortunately, it’s not gender-neutral, so it probably wouldn’t work that well. If the person actually meant “abdominal snowmen,” maybe the idea was to intimidate the opponent with our amazing chiseled abs. That doesn’t work for me. I think I last saw my abs in 1988.

Aeronauts/Aeros: This suggestion pays tribute to UND’s aerospace program, which is nationally known. Some of the notes do connect “Aeros” with “arrows” and hearken back to the old nickname, but that’s a pretty big stretch. Aviators is a related possibility that seemed quite popular.

Auroras: Cool idea, but really hard to draw and even more difficult to makelights1_0 a mascot suit for. It puts me a bit in mind of the Quasars, the team name of Southwest Star Concept School before it went back to being Heron Lake-Okabena. The school had a mural of stars showing the name, and it was fairly unique – but a little odd, too.

Badlanders: Hearkens to the terrain in the west. At the same time, the Badlands National Park is in South Dakota, and this might confuse people.

Berserkers: A callback to North Dakota’s Norse heritage, as berserkers were known for frenzied fighting in Scandinavia. Modern people may not know of the berserkers’ supernatural traits – despite not wearing armor they couldn’t be hurt by edged weapons or fire, and they went into a kind of battle-trance before fights. Some could supposedly transform into animals, so this would also be a bit like calling ourselves the Werewolves.

010515.n.gfh_.storm1_Blizzard: While very “northy,” and certainly something one associates with North Dakota, this might be a little abstract and tricky to draw as well. Would our mascot be a snowball? A field of white? Three sparkly snowflakes with lots of glitter? A lot of people suggested this, though!

Bombers: Meant as a shoutout to UND’s aviation program, I’d really hesitate to recommend this. Void of context, “bombers” are generally known for attacking soft targets and killing civilians with explosives. Lately the primary association with the word “bombers” is probably terrorism. Probably best to pick something else.

Dragons: Everyone loves dragons. Some are good, some are evil, some warlike and dragonsome wise. They also seem to be enjoying a recent popularity surge thanks in part to “Game of Thrones.” You can make them cute, you can make them fearsome, and dragon suits are probably easy to purchase. Not seeing a downside here, but I’m extremely partial to dragons and have two on my desk at work, so I will freely admit some bias here.

Drillers: I see the Oil Patch connection, but evoking dentists probably isn’t a great idea, even if they are feared by many. And there are other negative connotations here as well.

Ermines: It might be best not to be named after a creature best known for being made into coats for wealthy people. But that’s just my opinion.

Eternal Flame: Meant to tie in with UND’s current logo. Those who aren’t religious may not know that this is the common name of the candle on many churches’ altars that never gets put out. And everyone can probably see there might be an issue with “flamers.”

UND logo_1_0_10

Edit: Here are more suggestions, from F to M:

Fighting Anything: I don’t think this is a good idea, as it’s too close to the previous name, but that’s just my opinion. A few of these may even be attempts to squeeze the old logo back in, which seems to me to be a one-way ticket back to tedious and expensive litigation and ceaseless arguments. Let’s not go there.

UND logo_1_0_10Fire, Flames: Might sound a little too much like an unfortunate disaster has occurred on campus. “The UND Fire” sounds like a phrase that would be followed by “began at 3 a.m. last night,” or “claimed the lives of 17 students,” or “is suspected to be arson.” Flames, well, we already covered the reasons that might be problematic under “Eternal Flame.”

Flickertails: People either love this nickname, which UND used in days gone by, or they hate it. It’s a ground squirrel sometimes called a gopher; the University of Minnesota’s mascots are the Golden Gophers, obviously. It could be worse, but I personally do feel that we could probably do a lot better than this. And I wonder how many of the people who submitted Flickertails were just trolling to try and force a U of M doppelganger on UND. They are awfully cute, though.

Flood: While this is incredibly relevant to the area, it brings up a lot of very bad memories for a lot of local people and might be a little bit insensitive. On the other hand, it does mark a time in which our community united to fight a destructive natural disaster.

Frackers: This may be an unwise choice in the long run. The oil boom may not last forever, and should it end a lot of people will be financially hung out to dry. Then the name would rub it in their faces. Additionally, there is major opposition to oil fracking all over the United States.

Ymir, Frost Giant

Ymir, Frost Giant

Frost Giants: I’ve already written a bit about the Frost Giants. I kinda like it, and because the Frost Giants aren’t properly gods, we aren’t running the risk of offending any modern pagans (yes, there are still people who worship the Norse pantheon).

Glaciers: Y’all do know that glaciers are incredibly slow, yes? They do crush everything in their paths, but at the same time, slowness is not generally a trait positively associated with most athletic endeavors.

Green Goblins: Come on, dude, we all saw Spider-Man. Even if we wanted to steal from good ole’ Stan Lee (which we shouldn’t, he seems like a nice man), I’m pretty sure Marvel’s lawyers would pound us into dust in that legal battle. (The Lawyers would be a great mascot, but everyone would be too terrified to speak the word aloud, Voldemort-style, because they’d sue.)

Green Machine: John Deere might not be amused. On the other hand, they might be so amused they’d sponsor the team, but that would be selling out. And International Harvester fans would not be happy with this choice at all.

Homesteaders: While this does seem like a good suggestion at first glance, it would probably be a better idea to avoid this period in the state’s history, which often saw white settlers pitted against Native Americans. This goes for Explorers as well, though at least that would include Native American explorers such as Sakakawea. If these were the only options they’d be worth considering, but we have a thousand others, so why risk a replay?

41GBhveGlYLImperials: Hearkening to imperialism is also probably a bad idea. Plus, it’s a kind of delicious cinnamon candy, which isn’t terribly intimidating, and they’re red candies to boot, meaning we wouldn’t be able to wear our old green gear anymore. That’s no good.

Legends: Ties in with the state’s “Legendary” marketing campaign, but it’s also super vague and there are a million ways to illustrate it. That might be too many. Also, a certain age group will probably automatically complete the phrase with “of the Fall.”

Meadowlarks: These are the state birds. They sound a little bit too cutesy to me, but people have managed to make blue jay mascots look threatening, so that probably shouldn’t rule them out.

Mountain Lions: I see a problem with any nickname that has “mount” in it. If you don’t, congratulations, you are probably more innocent-minded than I am. Never change.

400px-Nighthawks_by_Edward_Hopper_1942Nighthawks: The name of a very famous painting by Edward Hopper, this nickname would strike fear into the hearts of abstract artists everywhere.

Nodaks: A lot of people like this one, but I’m not sure what a “Nodak” is, and having graduated from a college where we had to repeatedly explain our mascot to anyone who heard its name, I’m not a fan. (For those of you who don’t know, an Auggie is a baby eagle. And I graduated from Augsburg College.) It’s a little bland, too.

Norse: In English this word is often an adjective, not a noun, and would thus make for some unusual and awkward sentences later down the line. (It’s like naming your team “the Purple.” People would be continually asking “The Purple what?”) Norsemen might be easier, but that’s not gender-neutral, so I can’t really support that.

North Stars: This is literally the state motto of Minnesota, and may or may not have been200px-Minnesota_North_Stars_Logo_2.svg an attempt to name UND’s team after one of their big rivals (and recall the NDSU color scheme, too). Or, people might just not realize that’s the Minnesota state motto, due to it normally being in French. Also, the Dallas Stars might send lawyers after us if we went this route.

Northern Lights: See Auroras.

Oil Anything: See Frackers.

Orangutans: Submitted with the text “Orangutans are awesome.” Everything is better with monkeys, right? Er… apes, in this case.

Phoenix: The coolest mythological bird (sorry, rocs), phoenixes rise from their own ashes and symbolize rebirth, the circle of life and all that jazz. People seem to have a real problem spelling “phoenix,” though, and even more problems spelling the plural, phoenixes. On the other hand, fire.

Pilots: I feel like this is a less cool alternative to Aeronauts/Aeros.

Polar Bears: These are the scariest bears around, and because they’re not acclimated to humans they have no fear of humans, either. You can draw them terrifying, or draw them cute and cuddly, and they have an undeniable tie to chilly snowy places. You could easily find a polar bear suit, too.

Predators: Um. In the modern world, the word “predators” is usually immediately preceded by “sexual,” which is definitely and absolutely not the image we want here. Prowlers could also qualify as objectionable.

Pride: One of the seven deadly sins, along with Wrath, Gluttony and Sloth, Pride is generally considered to be the worst of the lot. Sometimes it is even considered the Original Sin. I’m guessing a lot of religious people might object to being literally named after a sin, but maybe not.

Pronghorns: It might be easier not to be named anything with “horn” in it, as I’m sure it will be turned into “horny” by opponents fairly quickly. Cool animals, though.

velociraptorRaptors: Could go one of two directions with this one, and use a fierce bird or the scariest dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. However, in real life, the dinosaurs may or may not have been covered in feathers, which would make them significantly less intimidating (albeit significantly fluffier).

Rattlers: Snakes generally have a negative connotation. While a lot of people are afraid of them, that fear often manifests less as “OH CRUD IT’S GOING TO KILL ME” and more as a “Icky creepy gross!”

Reapers: You want to be named after the bad guys from the extremely popular Mass Effect series of video games? The one that’s sold more than 14 million units? Not to mention the TV show Grimm. Maybe we should skip this one, even though the agricultural origin might have been cool.

Roughnecks, Rough Riders: However appropriate these names might have been in a more innocent time, it would take about 15 seconds to turn into bad jokes about “liking it rough.” Too many bad double entendres here that wouldn’t be suitable for a nice family hockey game. Alas.

Settlers, Sodbusters, Trailblazers: See Homesteaders.

Spirit: Super abstract and a little confusing. Would the mascot be a ghost? Are they just trying to get “Spirit Lake” into the mix without being obvious? I don’t know.

Stallions: This isn’t gender neutral, folks. The term refers to a very definitely male horse.

Storm: Interesting idea, but could potentially be difficult to find good artwork. Lightning bolt? Cloud and rain? Snowflakes? Thundersnow? Rats, now I wish I’d suggested Thundersnow.

Sundogs: Here’s another popular alternative a lot of people seem to like, but I’m not sure Isundogs quite understand the attraction. Literal sundogs are the pretty rainbow effect you get around the sun sometimes; metaphorically, maybe you could use a dog costume or something? I’m not fond of dog-related names even though my high school’s mascot was the Huskies. They can be potentially problematic for women’s teams. (Think about it.)

Swallows: More double entendres, huh? Did people really think it wouldn’t be obvious?

Trappers: Everyone who was a kid in the 1980s remembers trappers, right? Those nifty megafolders where we kept all our school stuff? They came in purple and pink and the virulent neon shades that were popular back then.

Tsunami: Yes, we did notice the first syllable is pronounced “Sioux.” Another attempt at an end run around the old nickname prohibition? Or just a lot of well-intentioned people who didn’t notice? I don’t know. It’s a shame, it would’ve been a cool name if it weren’t for the connection.

Valkyries: Also not gender neutral. Valkyries come in one gender, boys, and it is female.

Warriors: Another one that might be an attempt to run around the restriction against the old logo. If it’s not, it’s just too generic for my personal taste anyway.

Wind: It would give other schools the opportunity to plaster “Break the wind!” signs all over the place. Your mileage may vary on whether you think that’s a good thing or not, but I suspect it might not be funny after a while.

Yetis: This might be the holy grail of all nickname suggestions presented. They’re scary, they’re mythological, they’re known for being around ice and snow a lot, and they can be drawn as cute or terrifying as needs require. I do like this one.

UND logo_1_0_10

That’s my rundown, A-Z.

What do you think?

Which of my picks do you hate? Which do you like?

If we have to pick a new name, what nickname do you want to go with? (And please don’t answer with either “none,” or any variant on the old nickname. It’s been said already lots of times and this post isn’t about that.)