Monday, January 19, 2009

Smiling at the Department of Frownland Security

Since I recently moved and bought a newer truck, the other day I dashed over to the Idaho Ministry of Motor Vehicles to update my information. As the clerk prepared to take my photo, I suddenly remembered reading a news story about how Indiana’s motor vehicle department, does not allow you to smile, because smiling supposedly messes up facial recognition technology, making individuals harder to identify.

I almost smiled when I saw there was no line at the Idaho DMV. Waiting in long lines often automatically erases smiles, so Indiana department heads could use this as an excuse to cut staff, purposely creating longer waiting lines to erase those insidious cheese-eatin’ grins.

These thoughts were crossing my mind at the flashbulb instant they shot my photo, which came out with a slight grimace. Not only that, but I looked like I had more chins than a Chinese phonebook! Some friends suggested that if we were to go around celebrating a high level of jocularity all day like Smiling Bob in the Enzyte commercial, this would be a good way to subvert, facial recognition technology. However, soon Department of Frownland Security clowns would then mandate smiling against the law everywhere. Since any smiles could be construed as deceptive attempts to avoid identification and no mechanical tool better than human intuitive judgment has yet been proven to measure the absolute purity of princely smiles, (and ways to profit off these measurements) -for now anybody who smiles must be deemed a terrorist.

Maybe this explains why I always get a funny feeling; whenever I see; Smiling Bob broadcast his upside-down frown.


I realize that some frowny people might consider the above Chinese phonebook joke to be over the top, especially since today is MLK day. However, in the spirit of Pulitzer Prize winning columnists Leonard Pitts’ recent commentary: Where Clint Eastwood draws the line, my dream today is for people to sense this joke as funny enough to transcend racism. After all, I’ve shared healthy jokes with our Chinese cousins before, most recently on 9-11: (letter 2):

written near Smiley Creek, Idaho

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