Monday, August 9, 2010

Two small islands of islands

Do the villians in kid's cartoons still have German accents?  I confess the only current cartoon I ever stop to watch is Who-lives-in-a-pineapple-under-the-sea.  Oh, I watch plenty of cartoons; every few months I get the whole Jonny Quest series out of the library.  That Bandit, he sure is a scamp.  As for Race Bannon & Dr. Quest, well even as a kid I was OKay with that.  Anyhow, those villians still had German accents 1/2 the time & that was 20 years after the war.  Of course, most American kids from that same tv-era have a small but specific German vocabulary, what I call Hogan's Heroes German.  Mostly nouns.

But none of that matters because today is Victory Over Japan Day.  & no one celebrates it except Rhode Islanders.  Like all good obscure holidays, there is some confusion over the date.  Rhode Island observes it "the second Monday in August" which is specific enough for me.  They also observe Armistice/Veteran's Day (in November, with the rest of the US), but apparently they were feeling extra-special good (or extra special bad) about the Japanese.  I don't know why, but there it is one of only nine guaranteed holidays right there on the state's website.

I have learned that you can learn a lot about a state by what is at the top of their website.  For example, here in Florida, the first thing I noticed is their .gov site is not .gov it is .com, which I think effectively communicates that the whole state is for sale.  & it is. In the quick links at the great state of Texas you can:  register your car, renew your drivers license & get a concealed handgun license in that order.  New Jersey is a bit more versatile as the links change depending what is "In The News".  The day I looked two of the three headlines were about the lottery & why you should buy a ticket & the third (really the second as the lottery was the first & last, but you know what I mean) was "What does the Gulf Oil Spill mean for New Jersey?" probably because everyone knows that is the biggest environmental threat to New Jersey, that New Jersey did not do to herself. The only constant on the New Jersey homepage was real time traffic cameras.  Rhode Island opens with saltwater fishing licenses.

In an interesting twist, or maybe not, the state of Rhode Island has had a "relationship" with Japan longer than any other state in the US.  Even before that famous son of Newport broke the trade barrier in 1854, Rhode Islanders had been washing up in Japan; ill-treatment of shipwrecked sailors were part of Perry's negotiation.  Trade between the territory of Rhode Island & Japan had in fact been established in the 1600s, until Japan closed her doors on all but her nearest neighbors.  & like Japan, Rhode Island is a small, often overlooked piece of land.  Most Americans even think of it as that tiny square east of CT, south of MA (if they think of it at all) but Rhode Island is also a lot of small islands.  I know, its right there in the name & somehow we miss it.  Maybe this is why Rode Islanders are still so delighted with defeating the Japanese they take the day off.  Which is something to think about when you know what they DO NOT take the day off for.  Among the holidays not required by Rhode Island:  any President's Birthday, Martin Luther King Day or Rhode Island Independence Day.

What else?  Oh, this week in Japan, they will be observing Obon, the Buddhist Commemoration of the Ancestors.

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