September 12, 2008

Matyas Rakosi

In Hungarian, the /cz/ in "Rakoczi" is pronounced similarly to the /ts/ in "bats" or the /tz/ in "Yahtzee" (as a single syllable). In the phonetic drift westward, English speakers would typically reduce the consonants just to /z/.

The name was inspired by Sigismund Rakoczi, who reigned briefly as Prince of Transylvania from 1607 to 1608. But a reader who was born and raised in Hungary sent me the following historical clarification:

I appreciated you weaving my Vaterland into the story, but on a gut level I was disturbed by the choice of name for the vampire sire, Rakoczi. That name evokes one of the most revered figures in Hungarian history, Prince Francis Rakoczi II, who led an uprising against the Habsburg empire between 1703 and 1711. The uprising (like most Hungarian ones) was crushed and he spent the rest of his life as an exile to Turkey. His figure is one deeply respected by most Hungarians.

She also helpfully provided a list of infamous Hungarian villains. Topping the list was Matyas Rakosi, the brutal dictator who ruled Hungary from 1945 to 1956, and described himself as "Stalin's best Hungarian disciple."

In all future editions of the novel, the "cz" will be changed to "s."

My correspondent also brought to my attention Countess Elizabeth Bathory, "possibly the most prolific serial killer in history," accused of killing "hundreds of girls and young women." I wish I could say that Milada was based on her, though I am intrigued by the similarities in retrospect.

Wylde Medical Informatics employs the same technology as the Utah Population Database at the Huntsman Cancer Institute:

The central component of the UPDB is an extensive set of Utah family histories, in which family members are linked to demographic and medical information. The UPDB includes diagnostic records on cancer, cause of death, and medical details associated with births. It also includes claims data from statewide inpatient hospital discharge records. The UPDB provides access to information on over 6.5 million individuals and supports more than 75 research projects.

The institute is named for Jon Huntsman, the founder of Huntsman Corporation, one of the world's largest chemical companies. His son is the current governor of Utah.

Louis Rukeyser, the long-time host of Wall $treet Week, coined the term "Elves" to refer to technical stock analysts. Technical analysts evaluate only the performance of a security in the financial markets in order to predict future behavior, not whatever product or service the company actually sells.

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