by J Scott Christianson, Columbia Daily Tribune Columnist

Drive through the Hunter’s Gate subdivision in north Columbia, and you’ll find yourself navigating through streets with names like Gazelle Drive, Caribou Lane, Antelope Court and Rhino Boulevard. While none of these animals actually roam free in our fair state, I’m sure the street names alone have caused hunters from all over Missouri to relocate in Columbia just for the chance to purchase a house on Wildebeest Drive. I mean, who could pass that up?

Renaming streets and subdivisions to attract people with certain professions and hobbies seems like a great way to reinvigorate the slumping housing market. Imagine living in Chemist’s Haven, where your children would play on Valence Avenue or Sodium Lane. Or in Banker’s Hill, where you can take evening walks on Compound Interest Boulevard or Money Market Avenue. And what self-respecting physician would want to live on Green Meadows Road when he or she could be hanging out on Spleen Drive?

It might just be that I am getting older and fussier, but it seems like names and titles nowadays are either so contrived or change so often that they don’t mean much.

Consider the successful PedNet program, which recently decided to rename itself to something with the word “Go” in it. I have to admit that I can’t actually remember the new name – “Go there,” “Get going,” “Make it Go,” or something like that – but the new name lets us know that going is involved. Obviously, a very smart move by the board members of “Go Here,” or whatever it is called now.

Of course, Missouri’s higher education system has been taking the lead in the renaming game with several of the state’s top institutions taking on new monikers in recent years.

The trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down, either.

In less than four weeks, the University of Missouri-Rolla officially will become the Missouri University of Science and Technology, or “Missouri S&T.” I guess my suggestion to rename it the “Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy” fell on deaf ears.

These efforts at renaming programs, institutions and products are all aimed at increasing their appeal, but I have yet to see any evidence that the renaming has any positive effect. If anything, there is a real danger that the renaming might have a negative effect.

Many sailors believe that renaming a ship will bring bad luck to the vessel and its crew. Apparently, Neptune – the god of the sea – records the name of every vessel in his “Ledger of the Deep,” and if a captain just up and renames his ship, it screws up Neptune’s records and provokes his anger.

Accordingly, captains must remove all evidence of the current name from the boat before taking on the new name if they are to avoid having a cursed ship. Apparently, this makes it easier for Neptune to keep his records straight.

I have also noticed the titles for my columns regularly get renamed between the time of my submission and the paper’s publication. A submitted title like “Republican Party surges to destruction in 2007” can get turned into “No quick fix for Iraq” or “The case of the serial e-mail forwarder” can get changed to “E-mail needs a ‘weird propaganda’ filter” or some other odd title.

Oh well, I guess there is not much we can do to reverse this trend.

Regardless, thanks for reading “Christianson insightfully dissects problems with modern monikers.”