Monday, November 17, 2008

George W. Bush & Email Addresses


There was an article in the NYTimes over the weekend about Obama's addiction to his Blackberry. Due to presidential records laws, he is likely to have to go cold-turkey on the device as part of his transition. Buried in the story was an interesting tidbit about poultry of another kind (wetter, and with a leg injury). George W. Bush apparently loved communicating with friends by email, and had to give up his personal email just before taking office. The Times helpfully provides his old address, which is a random little bit of trivia:
“Since I do not want my private conversations looked at by those out to embarrass, the only course of action is not to correspond in cyberspace,” Mr. Bush wrote from his old address, G94B@aol.com. “This saddens me. I have enjoyed conversing with each of you.”
I haven't tried the address, but I'd be surprised if it doesn't bounce back.

My immediate question was: why 94? Sometimes numbers in email addresses are borne out of necessity and random. When I had to come up with my first handle for my America On-Line screen-name in 1993, I was seated at my parents' kitchen table while on the phone with the service's customer service people, and scrambled to pick something suitable on short notice. There was a Nintendo Power book on the table, and I flipped through it looking for something I somehow identified with. I found an entry in the book about the Hunt For Red October Game Boy Game, which mentioned the Red October's captain, Marko "Mosht thingsh in here don't react well to bulletsh" Ramius. I liked the book and the movie was great, I thought; why not? I asked for Ramius as my screen-name.

It was taken, of course, so they added some random numbers. Thus, once AOL connected their email to the rest of the internet (not originally part of the service, I think internet email came along with billing not by the minute -- thank God internet billing by time doesn't exist any more), my first email address was Ramius6561@aol.com. Feel free to try sending a message. Maybe it will go back in time and 1995-me can tell you how awesome the first Mystery Science Theater Conventio-con was. The answer is: very nerdily awesome.

So again, why 94? The fact that the number is internal to the rest of the name suggests a personal choice, rather than random appendage. To Wikipedia! Is Bush's birthday September 4? No. Nor is it his daughters' or wife's birthday or his wedding date. The only significant September 4 in his biography seems to be his DUI arrest in 1976. I wondered if, given his Born Again status, and how his alcoholism was part of what pushed him in that direction, he looked back at that date as important in his spiritual development. I'd say maybe not, since he didn't give up drinking until 1986.

Then I realized he was elected Governor of Texas in 1994. So that's probably the answer.

What was your first email address? If it had numbers in it, were they meaningful (and why) or random?

3 comments:

Hilary said...

fnxk47b@prodigy dot idunno

Randomly assigned, but I know that all email addresses related to one account simply changed the last letter (i.e. the main address, my mom, was fnxk47a).

The report about the bridge collapse came out -- I am waiting for your commentary!

www.damiancjohnson.wordpress.com said...

Judas54@aol.com. It was a choice based purely on sound. Jooo-daaas. Jooo-daaas. fiftyfore! I gave no consideration at all to the implications of betrayal and deep self-pity. Until someone pointed it out and I changed it.

[carlsonp] said...

I think my first e-mail address was ogreboy2@juno.com. OgreBoy, since that was a high school nickname, My lucky number "2" after I was dumbfounded that someone else could have already thought of such an original nickname, and Juno because it was free e-mail and we didn't start paying for AOL until later.