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Play The Internet Namesakes Game

(or The Importance of Being Barry Jones)

by Eric Shackle

Who else around the world shares your name? Anyone can play The Namesake Game on the Internet. It can be lots of fun and full of surprises.

All you have to do is enter your name (between quotes) in one of those amazing search engines, such as Google. (Later, try clicking Google's Images button, and then enter your name, to see what are often hilarious pictures of your namesakes). It's not much good if your name is John Smith (Google lists 296,000 pages of them), but if you enquire about "John Montague Smith" you can narrow the field down to a mere handful.

Nor is it much use if your name is George Bush. You'll find that any references to lesser-known namesakes are lost among 593,000 entries, mostly about the present and former U.S. Presidents.

Our introduction to the game occurred when we searched the Net to gather information about a distinguished Australian, Dr Barry Jones, A.O. (Officer of the Order of Australia, our highest honor).

We discovered that Barry Jones is the name of a politician, film star, baseball pitcher, professor, hypnotist and crystal gazer. There seems to be something about the name that turns many of its owners into talented, and often extroverted, in-your-face performers on the Internet.

Australia's Barry Jones first became a public figure when, as a young Melbourne school teacher, he won the title of national quiz king in Bob Dyer's BP Pick-a-Box show on Channel 7 in the days of black-and-white television. I first met him then, in the 1950s, when, as public relations officer for the sponsor, I often drove him from his Sydney hotel to and from the TV studio in Epping, seven or eight miles from the city.

Barry was a great TV performer for several years, becoming a celebrity when he beat challenges from quiz champions from several countries. A few years later he gained degrees in arts and law and doctorates in science and literature.

He entered Victoria's State parliament as a Labor member in 1972, and graduated to become a Federal politician from 1977 until 1998. He was Minister for Science from 1983 to 1990 and national president of the Australian Labor Party from 1992 to 2000.

In January 1998, he was deputy chair of the Constitutional Convention and in February 1998 became a "national treasure," one of 100 people the National Trust named as Australian icons. Barry Jones Bay in the Australian Antarctic Territory, and Yalkaparidon jonesi, a rare extinct family of marsupials, were named for him. Now he is busily writing his autobiography.

By a strange coincidence, Britain too has a Labor MP: The Right Honorable Barry Jones represents Alyn and Deeside in the House of Commons. Termed "a nice guy" by his Australian namesake, he had the misfortune of being born at the wrong time politically – too young to have been a minister in the Wilson Labor Cabinet, and too old for the present Blair ministry.

The many other Barry Joneses around the world are a curiously mixed bunch, as was revealed in a tour of their Internet websites. Here are just a few of them:

Barry Jones – Hypnotist, Mentalist, Corporate Speaker was born in England and now lives in California. "As a competitor in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii, Barry became aware of the 'altered states of mind' that it took to participate in such events," says his website "Subsequently, during a 21-hour event from Death Valley to the peak of Mt Whitney he experienced a four-hour loss of time. Fascinated by this 'trance state' he studied hypnosis at the University of California, San Diego. Using hypnosis for imagery and as a motivational tool for athletes, Barry Jones has become a leader in its use in sports psychology... Available for Conventions, Schools, State Fairs, Universities, Night Clubs, Athletic Motivation, Private Parties."

Barry Jones – Crystal Gazer: "Wendy and Barry Jones take you on a journey through the crystal realm. Beginning with the story of their creation deep within the Earth, The Magic of Crystals tells of the history and significance of crystals through the ages as an important background to understanding their amazing properties."

Barry Jones – Film Star was a British character actor who began his stage career in the 1920s and appeared in 33 movies between 1931 and 1966, including Brigadoon (1954) which is still shown from time to time on late-night TV. His other films included Ten Little Indians (1959), The Safecracker (1958), Prince Valiant (1954), Return to Paradise (1953), Island Rescue (1952), Appointment With Venus (1952), The Clouded Yellow (1951) and Number 17 (1932). He is remembered as the deranged explosives expert Professor Willingdon, who threatened to destroy London in Seven Days to Noon (1950).

Barry Jones – Baseball Pitcher "Barry Louis Jones. Height: 6ft. 4in. Weight 225lb. Born Feb. 15, 1963 in Centerville, Indiana (U.S.)"

Barry Jones – Boxer "Hometown: Wales. Division: Super Featherweight. Ranking: WBO - 1: IBA - 12. Titles: Former WBO Super Featherweight Champion, IBF Inter-Continental Super Featherweight Champion."

Barry Jones – Alcohol Researcher "His first lectureship was at St. Andrews University. In those days, he researched visual processes in rats, monkeys and young humans. During the 1980s, his research interests evolved to modelling decision making in clinical nurses and nurse managers. Since that time, he has graduated to modelling the decisions of the patients themselves and particularly alcohol consumption decisions."

Barry Jones – Professor Creator of "online class demonstrations of the use of synthesizers, sequencers and the MIDI protocol. These songs are arranged and played by Barry Jones: Ain't Misbehavin' – Fats Waller, Harry Brooks, Andy Razaf; Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight – James Taylor."

Barry Jones – Motivator "Great quotes to inspire, empower and motivate you to live the life of your dreams and become the person you've always wanted to be!"

And proving Barry Jones's versatility, there's even a Barry Jones 10km Road Race in London. The annual race was renamed to honor the memory of the organising club's late secretary.

It would have been great if at least one of the thousands of other Barry Joneses around the world had competed. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be a marathon runner among them.

© 2002 Eric Shackle (
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.

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