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Why the Name?

There are really two different questions one might ask about the name “urticator”: what does it mean, and why did I pick it? What it means is explained in the corresponding dictionary entry. Here I'll explain why I picked it.

The name got its start a couple of years ago when I was playing a computer game, Subspace. Subspace was a massively multiplayer game—I could routinely find single games with over a hundred players involved all at the same time. Each player controlled a single spaceship, like the one in Asteroids, but there weren't any asteroids, just lots and lots of other players. The map area was larger than a single screen, and there were walls, mazes, forts, and so on.

Each ship had two modes of attack, one using little round bullets, the other using bombs that made pretty explosions. I was better at using the bombs, and the explosions reminded me of nettles, so I thought of myself as stinging the other players with nettles, and hence picked “urticator” as my nom de guerre.

Recently an old friend pointed out to me that I was confusing nettles with prickly burs. Oops! Fortunately, the name is appropriate for other reasons as well.

For one thing, I got the idea from somewhere that urtication is something monks might once have done, a kind of self-flagellation, but with nettles. Now, I have something of a monastic temperament, and self-flagellation with nettles isn't out of the question (at least metaphorically), so “urticator” is a reasonable name in that respect. (As an aside, no discussion of monks and self-flagellation can possibly be complete without a reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.)

Another reason the name is appropriate has to do with the site itself, or rather with its content. Building this site has made my brain itch with ideas … with how they all connect together, or perhaps with dissatisfaction at not being able to lay them out just so. I will be disappointed if the site does not produce the same effect in its readers. Thus, I think of myself as stinging the brain with ideas.

This fits in well with the meaning of urtication noted in the dictionary entry, if we think of the brain as being paralyzed and in need of stinging to awaken it.


  See Also

  Day in the Life, A
  Good, The

@ March (2000)