Occasional thoughts and deeds of an Engineer
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  • Be afraid, very afraid

    Posted on June 21st, 2022 cwmoore No comments

    Vote as you wish but think and look before you leap!

  • J. Michael Luttig Statement

    Posted on June 17th, 2022 cwmoore No comments

  • 10 Myths About the American Flag

    Posted on June 14th, 2022 cwmoore No comments

    Don’t believe everything you’ve heard about the Stars and Stripes

    by Aaron Kassraie, AARP, Updated May 18, 2022 (excerpt)

    Myth #1: Betsy Ross created the first American flag

    The familiar story of George Washington walking into a shop and asking Betsy Ross to sew a flag originated with William Canby, a grandson of Ross, said Peter Ansoff, president of the North American Vexillological Association, a group devoted to the study of flags. Canby presented his tale with little supporting evidence to the Pennsylvania Historical Society in 1870, nearly a century after the original flag was created. He claimed Ross told him the story right before her death in 1836, when he would have been around 11 years old.

    “Obviously, he was still a youngster at the time, and he was writing this much later than that,” Ansoff said. “There are many discrepancies in the story — some things that just don’t make sense.”

    Since Washington was out in the field commanding the army, for example, he didn’t spend much time in Philadelphia, where Ross’ upholstery shop was located. Additionally, flags were first made not for ground troops but for naval forces, which Washington had little to do with, Ansoff said. The true creator of the first American flag is likely lost to history.

    What is the Flag Code?

    The Flag Code is a set of flag etiquette guidelines developed in 1923 by the American Legion and other organizations. It instructs when the flag should be displayed, manners and methods of displaying it, and buildings where it should be raised. There are detailed specifications for displaying the flag at half-staff and even how to deliver the Pledge of Allegiance.

    The Flag Code was adopted as law by Congress in 1942. However, it does not have an enforcement mechanism, and there is no flag police. States have attempted to punish people who disrespect the flag. However, their efforts were struck down by the Supreme Court as free speech violations.  

    Sources: The American Legion and the Congressional Research Service

    Myth #2: The flag has always had stars and stripes

    America’s earliest flags did not have stars and stripes. A flag used in 1775, for example, did have stripes, but it displayed the British Union Jack crosses in the canton, the top left corner of the flag that’s also known as the union. The primary use of a national flag at that time was for naval ships to be able to recognize each other.

    Congress didn’t adopt the flag with 13 stars and 13 stripes as the official U.S. flag until 1777.

    Myth #3: Americans have always flown the flag

    Prior to the Civil War, flags were really only flown in an official capacity on ships, forts and government buildings. “In the antebellum period, if a citizen had flown his flag on his house or carriage, people would have thought that was strange. Why is he doing that? He’s not the government,” Ansoff said.

    The outbreak of war in 1861 quickly changed Americans’ attitudes about displaying the flag.

    “At the beginning of the Civil War there was an outburst of patriotism,” Ansoff said, “and very soon, you saw people flying flags everywhere to show their support for the Union cause.”

    Myth #4: Red, white and blue have official meanings

    The colors of the flag were not assigned any official meaning when the first flag was adopted in 1777. The traditional meanings assigned to the colors may have arisen five years later, in 1782, when Charles Thompson, the secretary of the Continental Congress, waxed poetic about the colors in the Great Seal of the United States, which he helped design. Thompson described the red in the seal as representing hardiness and valor; the white, purity and innocence; and the blue, vigilance, perseverance and justice.

    As for the origin of the red-white-and-blue color scheme, it’s likely no coincidence that the British flag bore the same three colors.

  • NYT – Group Project

    Posted on June 6th, 2022 cwmoore No comments

    Dear Omega D5:

    Everyone screws up. When I joined the Council, I recommended contacting a race of sentient, spacefaring locusts. Believe me, it took centuries to clean up that mess. I still can’t sleep without an electrified mosquito net.

    But bringing back those humans? A little more than a screwup. Introducing them to our lives has been nothing short of apocalyptic. An apocalypse it was your specific job to prevent.

    I know that fact-checking isn’t as fun as First Contact. But it would have helped to know if a species was dim enough to fight two world wars. With that kind of planet, we should have taken a wait-and-see attitude. Or vaporized them from orbit.

    Now we don’t have either option. There are humans in every space station, starting new religions and coughing on endangered sentients. Last week, one of them landed on a Council territory and declared it “New Texas.” We vivisected him quickly, but there are certain to be more on the way.

    I encourage you to adopt a more fastidious attitude. Get into details. When you find a new species, ask: Did they take fascism seriously? How many genocides per decade do they commit? Are their leaders the loudest, most sociopathic members of their hives? Did they invent nukes before nonstick pans? The galaxy will be better for it.

    Sincerely, Alpha 70-1 ♦