Midnight Beach logo

Ethiopia - The Name

Ethiopia has a long, fascinating history as a border region, which has recently been found mirrored in its population genetics. To classical Europeans, it was far Ethiopia, where the people were burnt black by the sun. (Yet linguistic evidence suggests it may be the point-of-origin of the "Semitic" language family - which includes Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic.) It's in Herodotus and the Bible. More recently, it was one of the few African countries not conquered by a European colonial power. And most recently, of course, there's the whole sad Ethiopia vs Eritrea mess.

One of my retirement fantasies is to write a best-selling popular history of Ethiopia. I'd really love to be in a position where I could research a subject for five years, write a book, and move on. That's not going to be possible for a while, if ever, but in the meantime my software needs a name, and I could come up with a lot of worse names than Ethiopia.

A Better Name Than I First Realized ...
Ethiopia may be where modern humans originated, and it has paid the price: for all its pride and independence, until relatively recently it's been very backward. Agriculture is primitive and, despite ample rainfall, crops lack irrigation because the rivers are not tapped. To me, Ethiopia is a prime example of the Winner's Curse. Ethiopians evolved a successful technology, and then didn't change it for millennia. Meanwhile, the losers who were forced out by population pressure had to innovate, and soon surpassed their cousins in the homeland.

When I did some updates to the software in 2006, I found that Ethiopia was an apter name that I knew. The core templating software was my first .NET application - and it shows. I found code that replicates functionality that I didn't know was available in the runtime library; I found code that did things in grossly inefficent ways. (Fortunately, Visual Studio 2005 includes a nice profiler that let me find the worst bottlenecks quite easily.)


Created on May 10, 2003, last updated March 4, 2006 • Contact jon@midnightbeach.com