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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Vexillology

A banner Gules, six bars Argent; the canton Azure charged with 50 mullets Argent.

I know you've been wondering. Sunday. My birthday. Isn't that thrilling! Somewhere in my late 40s. Don't press me. I'm very vain. Just be glad I'm not still insisting I'm 29. Now I'll be saying I'm 33. I'll be 33 for the next 4 or 5 years, then I'll be 36. Hey, what do you expect. I grew up in Hollywood. Of course I'm a liar. A vain, shallow, self-centered liar. "All Cretans are liars," said St. Paul. That was 2000 years ago. Now all Hollywoodians are liars. Or maybe I'm lying. Hollywoodistas? Hollywoodiots? Hollywoodies? Hollywoodpeckers? I know, for West Hollywood, it's West Hollywoodpeckersuckers. It's on their flag. Their gaily coloured rainbow flag.


But I digress ... did you notice? For my up coming 29th birthday I went online and bought a flag. A US flag, that has only 49 stars. I was born in the year -- the one year -- when the official flag had just 49 stars.

Did you know there are federal laws governing the use, display and disposal of the flag, but there are no penalties for not following these laws? How can there be laws that have no penalty for their breach? In fact, any penalty would violate the First Amendment, as it is currently interpreted. Did you know there’s a US Army Institute of Heraldry? How ... arcane.


The blue part of the flag is called the union, positioned as you know in the upper left quarter, the canton. It stands on its own as a maritime flag, a jack: the Union Jack -- not, of course, the British Union Jack.

The stars are called mullets. Hmm. The flag itself is red. Did you know our flag was red? Red to signify the mother country, GB, but also valour and strength. With six white stripes, representing liberty, and purity and innocence. Blue -- heaven, nobility, perseverance and justice. Lofty, isn’t it.

Remember when the reconquistadores flew the flag upside down a few months ago? -- a sign of their disrespect to us? It’s not a sign of disrespect, but of dire distress and danger. So they’re prophets, it seems. They announce themselves by their actions. Al Queda West. As you know, the proper way to dispose of a flag is by burning. Dignified, ceremonial burning. The American Legion holds such ceremonies on June 14, Flag Day.


There have been 27 US flags, the first without stars:

And the first with stars:

Looks wrong, doesn’t it. Such an empty heaven. Nine such starry flag designs lasted only one year, supplanted with the addition of some new state. Only since 1912 and the 48-star flag, has the arrangement of stars been fixed by law. Before then, it was up to the flag-making company, or the seamstress. The exact hues were not fixed until 1934. Prior to then, any old red, white and blue would do. Vermillion, eggshell and cerulean. Each new design is adopted on the 4th of July. In 2007 the 50-star flag will tie the 48-star flag for longest lasting -- 47 years. After that, the 50-star flag -- the real flag, the finished flag -- will stand alone. Someday, a long time from now, I might be 47. Maybe when I'm in my 70s -- late 70s.

So the 49-star flag is the Alaska flag.

You’d have to look pretty close to see the difference:

In the impossibly unlikely event that NY City, or Washington DC, finagles its way into statehood, here's the next flag:


No. Wrong. All wrong. Won't do at all.

Ol’ 49 lasted from July 4 1959 to July 4 1960. Hawaii became a state in ’59, but wasn’t on the flag until 1960. Maybe that’s why there’s a Hawaiian secession movement. Spiteful bastards. But the Hawaii flag, the 50-star flag? -- well that’s the flag. The flag. Doesn’t that count for anything? Anyway, it's been tried. Sorry, fellas. This flag don't get smaller. The stars may fall, but not from the flag of the USA. Don't count on it.

But who am I to talk about counting. I'm so young -- only 27.



J

2 comments:

Brent said...

Happy Birthday Jack!

May your day be filled with blessings and fond recollection of the previous year and hope for the future.

My prayer for you is that Father would grant you wisdom, grace, and prosperity as your soul prospers. May your spirit be as rich as your mind - that is, your relationship with Jesus would be renewed to such a point as would equal and surpass your intellectual acumen. Bless you, friend.

Happy 24th.

Brent

Jack H said...

Birthday? Who told you it was my birthday? There has been a serious breach of security, it seems. You are instructed to disregard all unauthorized communications RE: this topic. I hope to heaven the year at least hasn't become public. And believe you me, if I find out who is resposible, they are in SERIOUS trouble.

But thanks for the kind wishes. I just got done talking to my wonderful son now, in a distant land. So I'm in a mellow and pleased mood. BDs never have meant anything to me, but it is a good time to take stock, I suppose. Didn't really occur to me. We shall see.

Next year I'll be 21. Can't wait to start drinking!

J