The Biggest Changes on the 2016 SSA Baby Names List


Say hello once again to Noah and Emma, who made the top of the baby names list for the third year in a row. The Social Security Administration has released the data on what Americans named their babies in 2016, and at the top, it looks almost exactly the same as last year.

The top 10 names for boys were Noah, Liam, William, Mason, James, Benjamin, Jacob, Michael, Elijah, and Ethan. Elijah is new on the list (it was 11th last year) replacing Alexander (which is now at 11). For girls, the top names were Emma, Olivia, Ava, Sophia, Isabella, Mia, Charlotte, Abigail, Emily, and Harper, which were all on the top 10 for 2015.

The naming picture isn't all the same as last year, though. A look at the list of the top 1000 names reveals where things might be changing. On the girls list, Caitlyn took a nose dive, dropping off the top 1000 list from 598 the year before. Also dropping off the list were Caitlin, Katelynn, Kaitlynn, and Kaelynn, and Kaylin, Kaylynn, Katelyn, and Kaitlyn took significant tumbles.

However, another K name, Kehlani, made the biggest jump in popularity, making its debut on the top 1000 at 872 (from a previous 3359). The name Kaylani also made an impressive debut at 755, up from 1056 (Kehlani is the name of an up=and=coming singer/songwriter.)

A K name made a huge popularity jump in boys names as well. Debuting in the top 1000 at 901 is Kylo, as in Kylo Ren. Other names from the 2015 film The Force Awakens that moved up were Finn and Leia. Anakin was also up 132 places, to 778, the most popular it’s ever been. Another 2015 movie that seems to have made a name impact was Creed: The name debuted at 982, and Apollo moved up 167 places to 584.

Pop stars also had an effect on boys' names. A big boost was seen for Zayn, as in Zayn Malik. It was up 222 places to 421. Zayne, Zain, and Zane also moved up.

The rise of Harry by 101 places to 679 may have something to do with Zayn’s former bandmate Harry Styles, but could also have something to do with a resurgence of older, traditional names, some of which are back in the top 1000 after having disappeared for a while, including Ralph (now at 992), Alistair (at 882), and Howard (at 900).

Some traditional girls' names seem to be making a comeback too. There were big moves up the list for Mavis (789), Maxine (904), and Louise (897), which all rose about 200 places. To make room for them, some later, but once incredibly popular names like Kristen, Jenny, Denise, and Asia have now fallen out of the top 1000. For boys, the same has happened to Freddy, Tyrone, Deshawn, and Todd.

5 Film Transitions Worth Knowing

You see them every day, on TV shows, the news, and in movies, but how well do you know the most oft-used film transitions? Here are the big five:


The dissolve is an editing technique where one clip seems to fade—or dissolve—into the next. As the first clip is fading out, getting lighter and lighter, the second clip starts fading in, becoming more and more prominent. The process usually happens so subtly and so quickly, the viewer isn't even aware of the transition. The above video offers a great overview of the cut, with examples.


This transition is the opposite of the dissolve in that it draws attention to itself. The best example of the wipe is what's known as the Iris Wipe, which you usually find in silent films, like Buster Keaton's or the Merrie Melodies cartoons—the circle getting smaller and smaller. Other wipe shapes include stars, diamonds, and the old turning clock.

The Star Wars films are chock-full of attention-grabbing wipes. Here are two good examples from The Empire Strikes Back. The first shows the clock wipe; the second, the diagonal wipe (pay no attention to the broken blocks at the start of the second clip—that's a technical glitch, not part of the film).


As the name implies, in the basic cutaway, the filmmaker is moving from the action to something else, and then coming back to the action. Cutaways are used to edit out boring shots (like people driving to their destination—why not see what the character is seeing or even thinking sometimes?) or add action to a sequence by changing the pace of the footage. My favorite use of the cutaway is in Family Guy, where the technique is used to insert throwaway gags. Here's a great example:


The L Cut, also called a split edit, is a very cool technique whose name dates back to the old analog film days.

The audio track on a strip of celluloid film runs along the side, near the sprocket holes. In the L Cut transition, the editor traditionally cut the picture frames out of the strip, but left the narrow audio track intact, thus creating an L-shape out of the film. A different camera angle, or scene was then spliced into the spot where the old picture was, so the audio from the old footage was now cut over the new footage.

Of course, with digital editing, one doesn't need to physically cut anything anymore, but the transition is still widely used, and the name has remained the same.

Split edits like these are especially effective in portraying conversations. Imagine how a simple conversation between two people might look if all we ever got was a ping-pong edit back and forth between the two people talking. The L cut allows the viewer to read the emotion on the listener's face, as the dialogue continues over, as we see in this clip from Ferris Bueller's Day Off:


The fade in and fade out usually signal the beginning or end of a scene, especially if the filmmaker is fading to/from black. This is the most common, of course, but fading to white has become trendy, too. The opening title sequence from the HBO series Six Feet Under featured many fades to black and a couple brief fades to white. The very last bit in the sequence fades slowly to white, and is my all-time favorite example of the transition:

LEGO Is Rolling Out Its First Sustainable, Plant-Based Blocks

LEGO produces roughly 19 billion elements each year [PDF], and until recently, most of those bricks, minifigures, and accessories were made using oil. Now, the toy company has announced that it's experimenting with more sustainable production methods for certain items. As Mashable reports, the company will start selling 'botanical' pieces made from real plants this year.

To craft the new type of material, LEGO is sourcing sugarcane from Brazil. The crops are grown on agricultural land rather than former rainforests, and the sourcing has received the stamp of approval from the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance, an organization that encourages corporations to make sustainable, plant-based plastics.

Making LEGO parts from sugarcane results in a softer plastic, so the new method will only be used to make plant pieces like leaves, bushes, and trees for now. The bioplastic botanicals will start appearing in LEGO boxes this year and become standard by the end of 2018.

“The LEGO Group’s decision to pursue sustainably sourced bio-based plastics represents an incredible opportunity to reduce dependence on finite resources," Alix Grabowski, a senior program officer at the World Wildlife Fund, said in a release from LEGO.

Though the switch will reduce the company's carbon footprint, the bioplastic botanicals still only make up of a small fraction of their total product line. LEGO says the change represents one step in its mission to use sustainable materials in core products and packaging by 2030.

[h/t Mashable]