Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
A computer-generated image of NERC's currently unnamed new vessel. (Photo: HO, AFP/Getty Images)

The New York primary is today, but really, why bother participating in this process at all? Democracy is indeed dead, as indicated by the failed naming of the Natural Environment Research Council’s new $300 million new research vessel. NERC democratically ran an online naming contest, where the clear winner has been declared: “Boaty McBoatface,” with an astounding 120,000 votes, outpacing the nearest runner-up four times over. But, jumping through a loophole, NERC has fallen back on its so-called “expert panel” to make the final decision. Like there’s a better name in the world than Boaty McBoatface. What would that even be? Floaty McFloats-a-lot? Sinky McSinkhead?

USA Today reports that British Science Minister Jo Johnson told the BBC: “There is a process now for us to review all of the public’s choices.” Yeah, you know what that’s called? Counting the votes. Johnson continues about the suggested nautical monikers: “Many of them were imaginative, some were more suitable than others,” expediting the lie that there are names somehow better than Boaty McBoatface. Johnson has even dragged the Queen into this mess, maintaining that he would be “embarrassed” to ask her for an official warrant. As the U.K. Mirror reports: “We do need a warrant from the Queen for what will be a Royal Research Vessel, and I wouldn’t want to be in the position of asking her to give a warrant for something that was completely frivolous.” Like a monarch who has held the throne since 1952 would be tumbled by the paperwork involved in a Royal Research warrant for Boaty McBoatface.


This travesty has now resulted in a day that will be remembered as the moment when democracy sank, just like the Titanic. NERC and the Science Minister would do well to heed the words of one of their most famous countrymen, who stated that “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”—even a ship tasked with polar research related to climate change.

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