The SpaceX and Tesla billionaire Elon Musk and his rap-star girlfriend Grimes’ attempt to name their new baby boy X Æ A-12 has had a little hiccup. Because of a problem with Californian law, they had to change this from an Arabic to Roman numeral style X Æ A-Xii after it was pointed out that only alphabetic letters are allowed in babies’ names. As to the name’s meaning, well the X is for unknown variable, the Æ hints at either love or artificial intelligence (AI), while the A-Xii (A-12) is after the Mach 3 predecessor jet to the SR-71 spy plane.

A-12 jet aircraft. Courtesy: Wikipedia

Before this change, to help them out, your correspondent did suggest via Twitter some alternative aircraft names. The 1960s where the A-12 came from has many other excellent fighter jets. Thus, Mirage Musk would have been a good one, as would Phantom, Draken or Lightning Musk, or even the space-sounding Starfighter Musk, although obviously Mig-21 Musk is a non-runner for the reasons above.

Alternatively, from an earlier aeronautical era how about Spitfire Musk. Or even in its German pronunciation: “Achtung! Achtung! Spitfeuer!” But let’s not mention the war…even soon after the VE-Day celebrations.

Of course, there are the early biplanes as well. Sopwith Camel Musk has a certain ring to it. Or, even better, Gloster Gamecock Musk. Although, given how many children he has, Elon probably should keep that moniker for himself.

How about the rockets…Atlas or Titan Musk, or even Saturn V Musk. Marvellous!

It was, of course, unlikely that Elon would have plumped for a competitor rocket to name his boy after. So, no chance of an Omega Musk…which would be tricky if he ever hoped to achieve “Alpha male” status.  By the way, your correspondent has talked to an Ariane before…and jolly nice she was too.

Musk is not the first to give his baby a strange name. Space fan rock star David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust phase, along with his then wife Angie, originally gave his child the mystical name of Zowie – Zowie being the male version of Zoe which apparently is Ancient Greek for “Life”.

As he grew up, young Zowie Bowie wanted a normal name, first calling himself Joe Bowie before settling on Duncan Jones  (Jones being David Bowie’s real surname), which he now uses in his career as a director. By the way, this son of the Space Odyssey song writer did his bit for space arts with his recommended sci-fi mystery movie Moon (2009).

On that Lunar subject, the alternative rock musician Frank Zappa called his daughter “Moon Unit”. Not surprisingly, now grown up, she prefers to be called just Moon.

The first rule in naming your kid, or your pet dog, is to always call him or her something you are not embarrassed to shout out in a park or the back yard.

Your correspondent’s mother briefly toyed with the idea of calling him Xenophon but it sounded too much like senna pod, and this writer was lucky that she and his dad switched it to David. Mind you, there are a lot of us Davids about. This writer has memories of being in a student house with eight Daves in it. The conversation at the door often went: “Is Dave in, no I think he is out with Dave, but Dave is upstairs, etc.”  To set himself apart, this writer did consider changing to a different name…Ramrod.  Well Ramrod Todd does have a certain ring to it!

By the way, when naming a baby, don’t forget that initials can make a name embarrassing as well. A recent colleague accidentally gave his daughter the rather infective sounding initials VD.

Still, at least your correspondent was grateful not to be given embarrassing initials via a middle name. For example, he might easily have been called the poisonous sounding David Derek Todd – DDT, or even the rather thicker, David Ian Michael Todd, DIM Todd, And that would never do.