Tuesday, October 23, 2007

+ + (double ten)

What does a country that isn't recognized as a country do? Perhaps you are a small island and you were kicked out of the United Nations (with the help of the US) and although you are diplomatic to say the least, no one lets you have a consulate or embassy, so instead you have "Taipei Economic & Cultural Representative Offices." You can't even use the name of your country in the title, because that implies too much! So let's just use the name of the capital city and keep things simple (for now?)

Yes, Taiwan has to walk on eggshells, but at least they took possession of Double Ten Day (October 10th, or in chinese " + + " ) celebrating back in 1911 when Sun Yat Sen worked to establish the People's Republic of China - when the two Chinas were one China, and things were simpler. Chinatown in Chicago had the requisite Taiwanese flags being handed out as party favors fro the parade.

And writing about 10-10 on 10-23? yes well, things get busy. But the dragon dancers were great, the air was just right, everyone seemed pleased about the Middle Kingdom as a modern sort of nation-state. Now that there are two Chinas though, things continue to feel complicated. Perhaps each China should just get one of the Ten's (+), that way they could each claim to have the "Perfect Ten" day, or the more perfect one. or whatever.

The MC for this event was the same as for Chinese New Year parade two years ago, during the Year of the Dog. He was just as rousing and just as strange as last time, like a middle-school principal + soccer coach with almost too much enthusiasm for the crowd, and so in that way kind of the perfect MC.

My father's family is Taiwanese. Of the various kinds of Taiwanese, which one? After all, there are the indigenous people of the island, then the chinese of Fujianese descent who have been there a number of hundreds of years, and then those who came over with Chiang Kai -Shek in 1950, fleeing the Mainland after being defeated by the communists (and the Portuguese and Dutch and the Japanese and and ...and all that too, but that is a whole 'nother thing). Our family is of the second category, and overall has always seemed to feel pretty intent about Taiwan being its own thing, its own place, and I'd agree that would seem pretty ideal.

But really, politics aside, what Ten-Ten celebration would be complete without the Illinois Secretary of State's Tumbling Team? Yes, the
Jesse White Tumbler's were there too, and I have to say, the performance was freaking amazing. Gymnastics is one thing, but doing it over asphalt, and a parade moves along in the middle of crowded city streets is another all together. These kids could FLY. I lost count of how many times some of them spun around. Here is video clip taken above the head of the people in front of my. You can't see the Honorable Jesse White, but that is because he is standing below the tumblers, which are using him as an obstacle to clear.

I loved this year's Ten Ten. To all the Chinas out there, let's be happy you are (some sort of) republic.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Quantifiably Laughing

Technology is the Cutting Edge. There is no doubt about it, we are in the midst of a revolution, as this item taken from the September 7th , 2007 edition ofthe Chicago Shimpo, the city's Japanese community paper reported on.

Apparently this company has perfected -to percentile accuracy- the degree of your smile, as the screen shot below shows (that lady has a "100%" smile! On the other hand the fellow is only clocking in at a 32% smile - hmm, perhaps he woke up on the wrong side of bed?

Omron says that this device can "help take a picture of your best smile, and can also check your smile if you work in the service industry." No sense leaving something this importance to your intuition nor experience folks, not when science has the numbers to back it all up!

One thing that strikes me as odd is that "laughing" and smiling" seem to be used synonymously here - but really is anything as benign as a smile behind every laugh, or vice versa? Laughing at your clients might not got you the commission nor the date you were hoping for...