Thursday, August 14, 2008

A very believable birthday

There's a mini-controversy about the age of members of China's gold medal-winning women's gymnastic team. The fishiest age is that of gymnast He Kexin, whose age varies between 13 and 16, depending on the source.

see: Earlier state media report listed gymnast He's age as 13

My cynical side immediately leapt to her reported birthday: January 1st, 1992.

January 1st? If the Chinese government manufactured this birthday, couldn't they pick something a little more random, like, say January 4th?

If they wanted to make the date a bit more credible, they would have biased it towards the end of the year; it should be Dec 31st, 1992 so that her extremely young appearance might be accounted for by the fact that she hadn't yet had her sixteenth birthday.

I wonder though if that's what they thought they were doing with January 1st--my first reaction was that they chose the earliest date possible in the minimum year (1992) required for eligibility to make her look as young as possible but still be eligible. It was only after thinking about it for a moment that I realized that the opposite was true, that Dec 31st, 1992 would have been the more desirable fake birthday for someone that looks really young.

Maybe it's just because I'm a programmer, but the first day of a new year is, in my programmer's mind, a special case. It's the reset date, the rollover date. Of course people are born on that day every year, but in this case it just reeks of fishiness. It's almost as if the passport forger just entered Jan 1 as a temporary birthday until s/he could look up He Kexin's real birthday.

Either way, let this be a lesson to all you passport forgers (government sponsored ones and otherwise): Don't use January 1st as a birthday. It raises a red flag.


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