Saturday, April 01, 2006

INSTANT YANG v.14: Dog In, Chicken Out Edition; And Speaking of Dogs: AIBO, R.I.P.

It's Lunar New Year time again! Upside: Dragon dances and explosions and banquet spreads that would choke an army. Downside: Stressful extended family gatherings; shelling out "red envelope" cash to ungrateful little beggars; indigestion. I'm not yet cranky enough for the downsides to outweigh the upsides, so here's a hearty "gong xi fa cai" for all of you as the Year of the Dog approaches.

Speaking of upsides and downsides, this week's SFGate column is a look back at the past year's best, brightest, worst, and weirdest--ending with a bowed head for some of the luminaries who passed from us in 2005:

ASIAN POP
Chickening Out
As the Year of the Rooster crosses the road into history, we take a look back at Asian Pop highlights and lowlights of the past 12 months and offer up a prognosis of the year to come.

Congressional leader Rep. Bob Matsui; civil rights icon Fred Korematsu; Esther Wong, the "Godmother of Punk"; funnyman Pat Morita; activist, attorney, and balladeer Chris Iijima--just a few of the individuals whom we lost last year, but whose achievements and legacy will stretch on, forwards through the generations. (A sharp-eyed reader noted that I'd missed one more key figure in the fight for Japanese American redress--Tsuyako "Sox" Kitashima, the godmother of San Francisco's Japantown, and a vocal spokesperson for the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations. She passed away on December 29, of an apparent heart attack, at the age of 89.) I'm sure there were many others whom I overlooked, but I'd like to offer a moment of respectful silence for all of them now:

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...And before I sign off, one last sad hat-tip--this one to Sony's robo-pet AIBO, which the beleaguered consumer electronics giant end-of-lifed this week (along with his humanoid counterpart QRIO) due to "insufficient sales volume."

There's gotta be some bad karma involved in killing a canine just as the Year of the Dog commences, but whatever. Although this is a setback for those of us who've always dreamed of having a cool robotic buddy, the revolution ain't over by a long shot: Crazy droid concepts continue to beep and whirr their way out of Asian cybernetics labs like nobody's business, whether there's a business case for them or not.

That's it for this week--see you in a few. And remember to toe the line on those modern Lunar New Year traditions...

LUNAR NEW YEAR 2.0: After 47 centuries, isn't it time for some updates?

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