Changing a nation’s flag? New Zealand might

December 4, 2014

A few of us, a vanishing few, remember when Canada changed its flag in 1965.

Canada's flag in 1965. Wikipedia image.

Canada’s flag in 1965, featuring the British Union Jack. This design dates from 1957, following several earlier, similar designs. Wikipedia image.

Change the flag?  What a concept!

We probably forget that the U.S. flag, while recognizable since 1789, changed quite a bit between then and now, mostly in stars, but also in stripes.

Here’s what Canada settled on in 1965, after a surprisingly bitter debate that ran for months in 1964:

Wikipedia:  The National Flag of Canada,[1] also known as the Maple Leaf and l'Unifolié (French for

Wikipedia: The National Flag of Canada,[1] also known as the Maple Leaf and l’Unifolié (French for “the one-leafed”), is a flag consisting of a red field with a white square at its centre, in the middle of which is featured a stylized, 11-pointed, red maple leaf. Adopted in 1965 to replace the Union Flag, it is the first ever specified by statute law for use as the country’s national flag. The Canadian Red Ensign had been unofficially used since the 1890s and was approved by a 1945 Order in Council for use “wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag”

New Zealand contemplates changing her flag, with a referendum on the action pending, probably in 2016.  What are they in for?  Will the debate in New Zealand be so bitter as Canada’s was?

At the BBC site, a few more details:

New Zealand is to hold a binding referendum in 2016 on whether to change the national flag.

The announcement by Prime Minister John Key of the referendum came after his government last month won a third term in a general election.

A panel of “respected New Zealanders” will lead the public discussion on potential designs for a new flag.

Mr Key has previously said he would like to see a new flag featuring a silver fern, on a black background.

That would be similar to the banner already used by many New Zealand teams such as the All Blacks national rugby union team.

“I believe that this is the right time for New Zealanders to consider changing the [flag’s] design to one that better reflects our status as a modern, independent nation,” Mr Key said.

Photo illustrating the BBC story, showing the silver fern flag of the New Zealand All Blacks football club -- Getty Images

Photo illustrating the BBC story, showing the silver fern flag of the New Zealand All Blacks football club — Getty Images

A fern leaf.  Hey, that’s rather like Canada’s switch from the mostly-red flag with a Union Jack to a maple leaf.  Canada’s been happy with that flag for more than 50 years, now.  Right?

Wait. Canadian Prime Minister Harper wants to change the maple leaf now?

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper surprised media this morning by unveiling a “new-look” Canadian flag in red, white, and blue that “just by fluke” matches the colours of the Conservative Party’s logo.

“I was doodling with my magic markers a while back and it just came to me out of the blue. Our flag needs some blue!” said Harper sporting a lapel pin with his proposed new flag design.

“Frankly, the boring old flag doesn’t reflect my new Canada…we needed something with more energy, something gutsier to better reflect my world leadership role.”

Harper’s doodle, cleaned up a bit:

A new flag for Canada, with blue added in?  And what a lovely shade of blue it is . . . why does it make us suspicious?

A new flag for Canada, with blue added in? Stephen Harper’s proposed new flag. And what a lovely shade of blue it is . . . why does it make us suspicious?

When a CBC reporter pointed out that Harper’s new flag colours are identical to the Conservative Party logo the PM said he was surprised by the question and hadn’t really noticed the similarity.

“Wow…I guess if you squint at our new flag you could maybe see some loose, loose likeness to my party’s logo colours.  But my new design really captures the new Canada…bold and not to be messed with.”

ConservativePartyLogoSmaller

“Proud Canadians will rally behind this new flag as a patriotic symbol of what Canada has become.”

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau reacted immediately telling the Ottawa Citizen, “I, like most Canadians, must now question the very sanity of Mr. Harper.  Has he gone nuts?  That’s a real and pressing question.  Has Mr. Harper’s ego finally won the sweaty arm-wrestling match that goes on in his brain.”

“The NDP has been calling loudly for increased spending on mental health care and Mr. Harper just proved the need,” said opposition leader Tom Mulcair.

[Well, no, not really.  Notice that the source of the Canadian flag proposal is The Lapine, Canada’s most successful on-line satirical news site — the Onion of the Frozen North.  Yes, I got suckered in, until I read the entire article; if it makes you shake your head, be suspicious, even if it doesn’t trigger your Hemingway™ Shit Detector. New Zealand is serious, though.]

Flag wars ahead!  Social studies teachers, you should tee this up so your students can enjoy the popcorn.

Good thing the U.S. had Betsy Ross around to tell the rebels what the flag would be, eh?*

More, and resources:


Vancouver painted in timelapse

December 3, 2014

Nice way to see a city.  From Daniel Chen.

Details offered from the photographer:

Lights + City + Timelapse

Enjoy!

Gear: Canon Full Frame (5D3, 6D, someolder shots on crop)
Many lenses but mostly Rokinon 14mm, Tamron 24-70mm VC
Custom timelapse MOCO

Track: Energico by AJ Hochhalter

Tip of the old scrub brush to SuperVancouver.


“If a tree falls” — Bruce Cockburn

January 20, 2013

Bruce Cockburn (pronounced “coe-burn”), “If a Tree Falls.”  From his 1989 album, “Big Circumstance.”

Canada’s music copyright group SOCAN honored Cockburn in a program last month (all links added here):

The star-studded evening at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall is a chance for the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada to celebrate the best the Canadian music scene has to offer.

Bruce Cockburn performing at the City Stages f...

Bruce Cockburn performing at the City Stages festival in Birmingham, Alabama, United States. Photo: Wikipedia. Some guitar afficianadoes consider Cockburn in the top ranks of guitar wizards. A story we’re working to verify holds a reporter asking Eddie van Halen how it feels to be the world’s best guitarist, to which van Halen is said to have responded: “I don’t know. Ask Bruce Cockburn.”

Cockburn, who has had a 35-year career that produced hits such as Wonderin’ Where the Lions Are and If I Had a Rocket Launcher, will be presented with the SOCAN Lifetime Achievement Award.

Musician Bruce Cockburn gets the lifetime achievement award after 35 years as a singer-songwriter. (Canadian Press)  A Canadian Music Hall of Fame member and 12-time Juno award-winner, Cockburn will be serenaded by Serena Ryder as part of the ceremony.

He’s been around for 35 years, and I don’t have any of his stuff in my library?  How did that happen?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Jim Stanley.

More:


Annals of DDT: Canada’s Earth Tones on the history of DDT’s harms

March 26, 2012

Earth Tones, a Canadian science program, covered the history of DDT control.

[Below the fold, because it plays automatically.  Grrrr.]

Read the rest of this entry »


Women to match our mountains: Women at Work, Parts 1 and 2

February 12, 2012

I do love the tops of mountains, and I wish I could climb them.  Fortunately, there are cameras, people who know how to use them, and people who know how to edit film to tell a story, and put us all in awe.

Plus, living among us are people brave enough and skilled enough to get to the tops of those mountains, people who make the filming possible and worthwhile.

“Women at Work” is a film of a climb by “the Cirque Ladies 2010,” described by Emily Stifler:

In summer 2010, Lorna Illingworth, Madaleine Sorkin and I spent 25 days in the Cirque of the Unclimbables, Northwest Territories, Canada. Our goal was to free climb the entire 1963 Original Route on the sheer 2000′ Southeast Face of Proboscis, and grants from the American Alpine Club encouraged us to document the adventure. The result: Women at Work (VI 5.12 R).

Cirque of the Unclimbables?  Okay, I’ll watch.

Part 1

Part 2

More: 

Half the fun is getting there:  Camp in shelters made by Mother Nature:

Camping under large boulder in Fairy Meadows, Cirque of the Unclimbables - SummitPost.org

Camping under large boulder in Fairy Meadows, Cirque of the Unclimbables - SummitPost.org - "Nice roof," one wag commented

Map of Cirque of the Unclimbables, from Nahanni.com

Map of Cirque of the Unclimbables, from Nahanni.com; those dots are not settlements

 

Map to Cirque of the Unbclimbables and area, from BlackFeather.com, a tour company

Map to Cirque of the Unbclimbables and area, from BlackFeather.com, a tour company

 


Hopewell Rocks and 45-foot tides at the Bay of Fundy

August 4, 2011

Great time-lapse video of the tides at Hopewell Rocks, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick.

Teachers, can you get a decent geography warm-up with this video?  Every high school kid should know about the Bay of Fundy, one of nature’s greater phenomena.

More: 

Another time-lapse video of the tides at Fundy, taken at Halls Harbour, a different perspective:

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Canada? It’s in North America? What?

March 27, 2011

And in other news that didn’t make most U.S. local newspapers today, the government of Canada fell yesterday.

Canada government falls, Politically-Illustrated

"The Conservative government in Canada was toppled on Friday after a vote of no-confidence passed in the parliament by 156 to 145." Cartoon at Politically Illustrated by Cam Cardow

You know:  Canada.  That nation north of North Dakota, the one that keeps Alaska stuck to the North American Continent.  Remember?   It’s got about 20% of the world’s fresh water.  Those guys who helped us whip Hitler on D-Day.

Oh, c’mon.  Google the place, will you?  It’s the nation where, when you go there, ‘those bastards with the drug problem south of the border’ is the United States.

No, no, it’s probably not important.  We buy a lot of our oil from Canada.  Canada is our biggest trading partner.  They buy a lot of the goods that we still produce here.

And the conservative government there, under a parliamentary system that kids in the U.S. are never tested on in Texas, lost a vote of confidence Friday, in Ottawa.

Ottawa?  It’s the capital of Canada.  No, Montreal isn’t even the capital of Quebec.

Oh, come on! Quebec.  Quebec! It’s the province of Canada with all the French speakers. Yeah, Quebec City is the capital of Quebec.

Ottawa’s in Ontario.  No, Ottawa is the capital of the whole nation, Canada.  Ontario’s capital is Toronto.

Lone Ranger?  No, Toronto has nothing to do with the Lone Ranger.  It’s the biggest city in Canada.

Anyway, to get back to the topic, Canada’s government failed.  Conservatives lost a vote because of ethics issues.

Ethics issues, conservatives.  No news there.  No wonder it wasn’t covered better.

Elections in May. You’d know this, if you read the blogs of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

As if anyone cared.

Hey, get this:  Ontario alone has more than 250,000 lakes, natural lakes.  In a good, very wet year, Texas has two, maybe three natural lakes.

You could look it up.

No, NATO won’t intervene.  Canada is part of NATO.

More seriously:

Energy- and environment-interested people should take note. Canada is our largest source of imported oil at about 2 million barrels a day — more than Mexico and Saudi Arabia imports combined — and we share two ocean coasts with the nation.  See what Susan Casey-Lefkowitz said at her blog:

Hopefully, whoever takes over next in Canada will be a bigger proponent of clean energy and fighting climate change than the Harper government has been. The Harper government has been a vocal proponent of tar sands oil expansion – pushing this dirty fuel in the United States and in Europe. In fact, the Harper government has been instrumental in undermining clean energy efforts at home and abroad all to promote the tar sands oil industry. A fresh approach in Canada gives the country a chance to get back to its green roots and to listen to its provincial governments such as Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia who have been developing innovative ways to promote clean energy and fight climate change. A fresh approach also provides an opportunity to lessen Canada’s dependence on the oil and gas sector and its heavy control over the Canadian dollar leading many to fear “Dutch disease.”

Clean energy and fighting climate change are critical issues now and in the coming decades. Hopefully, Canada can step forward as a leader on both in the future.

We can overlook the abuse of the word “hopefully” to extract important information, I think.  Did your local paper cover this story today?

More, resources:

 

 


DDT propaganda machine

January 23, 2010

Media Check carries edited excerpts from a book by Daniel Gutstein from last year, Not A Conspiracy Theory: How Business Propaganda Hijacks Democracy (Key Porter, 2009) by Donald Gutstein, Key Porter (2009).

In the excerpted chapter Gutstein details how nefarious interest groups conspired to ruin the reputation of Rachel Carson and environmental protection activists with false claims about DDT and environmentalist aims.

The problem with the coverage of the DDT issue and with the eco-imperialism charge is that they are based on falsehoods that the media did not investigate. Former CBC-TV National News anchor Knowlton Nash once said that “…our job in the media… is to… provide a searchlight probing for truth through the confusing, complicated, cascading avalanche of fact and fiction.” In this case, the media let their audiences down; fiction prevailed over fact.

Despite what the pro-DDT organizations alleged, DDT was not banned for use in mosquito control and could continue to be used in 25 countries in malarial regions. In these countries, limited amounts of DDT can be sprayed on the inside walls of houses to combat malaria-carrying mosquitoes. “The environmental community is collaborating with the World Health Organization to ensure that the phase-out of the remaining uses of DDT does not undermine the battle against malaria and the well-being of people living in malarial zones,” the United Nations Environmental Programme reported when the treaty came into force.

Has anyone read the book?  Has anyone seen it?  (So what if it’s aimed at Canada?)

More thoughts:  Years ago, when Jan Brunvand first achieved some fame cataloging urban myths, it occurred to me that his books should be required reading in the very first survey classes in journalism school.   Maybe they should be required reading in political science, rhetoric, and philosophy, too.

Gutstein’s book would be a good reader for a class on reporting, or investigative reporting, or science reporting, or political reporting.  I’m not sure where it would fit in to a science curriculum, but I wish more scientists came out of undergraduate years aware that they can get hammered by these hoax-selling, axe-grinding disinformation machines.  All those reports about how Rachel Carson is the “murderer of millions?”  They coarsen dialog, they misinform, disinform and malinform the public.  They do great disservice to citizenship and voters, and ultimately, to our democratic institutions.

It’s not enough to have a counter, good-information plan.  These people must be convinced to stop.

More:


Glenn Beck doesn’t know Canadian health care

September 22, 2009

Just one more thing Glenn Beck doesn’t  know that he spreads disinformation about.

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Vikings in America, before Columbus!

August 5, 2009

Homeland Defense in the 9th and 10th century European settlements in America - Aardvarchaeology

Homeland Defense in the 9th and 10th century European settlements in America - Aardvarchaeology

Re-enactors in Canada bring alive two periods of Swedish immigration to the Americas, the Viking experiments of the 9th and 10th centuries, and later, in the 19th century.

Story at Aardvarchaeology.

From Aard regular Christina Reid (she started commenting less than a week after the blog opened, bless her heart!), a few pictures from Mid-summer Eve at the Scandinavian Cultural Centre in Burnaby, British Columbia. Tina and her hubby are active in the Reik Félag reenactment group. And her brother is the singer of Viking/Tolkienian metallers Amon Amarth!

How do Canadian public school curricula treat these events?  They are all but completely missing from the normal world history and U.S. history texts we use in Texas — of course, the U.S. history texts generally ignore the other two nations of North America in all contexts.

The town I mostly grew up in, Pleasant Grove, Utah, had been settled in large part by Scandanavians who had joined Mormonism and then migrated to Utah.  Generally looked down upon by English descendants, they rebelled by voting our high school’s mascot as Vikings.  The Christiansens, Fugals, Christesons, Larssons, Andersons, Andersens and others probably would have  enjoyed the idea of a Viking re-enactment.

Those wily Canadians figure out so many ways to have fun and hide learning in the activity.

Young Viking couple in Canada, 9th or 10th century, or 21st century reenactors - image at Aardvarchaeology

Young Viking couple in Canada, 9th or 10th century, or 21st century reenactors - image at Aardvarchaeology


Alberta: Academic freedom, or shackles?

June 3, 2009

Alberta, Canada’s legislature passed a bill that allows parents to pull kids out of the classroom if evolution is taught, or almost anything else that the parents deem counter to their own religion.  It’s a passive-aggressive response to laws that require non-discrimination against sexual orientation.

Or does it really allow an opt-out for evolutionMaybe.  Who can tell?

Even Albertans agree they don’t want to be Arkansas:

‘All they’ve done is make Alberta look like Northumberland and sound like Arkansas.’— Brian Mason, Alberta NDP leader

Oy.  Canada has its own version of the Texas Lege.

Bill 44 represents a deep-seated resentment of education in the hearts of conservatives.  It strikes at the purpose of education, to make students aware of society and other people.  It suggests that some ideas are so dangerous they cannot be discussed, even to rebut.

Fears of parents and conservatives are real.  Often what they fear is not real, or not a problem, or maybe even part of the solution.  Can they come to understand that if they can’t even discuss the issues?

Resources:


Frozen North economics: Where supply, demand and distribution are important problems

September 6, 2008

Especially you economics teachers, look at this very carefully:

Six cans of juice, at a store on Baffin Island - photo from Tales from the Arctic

Six cans of juice, at a store on Baffin Island - photo from Tales from the Arctic

How much do you pay for juice at your local market?

“The High Cost of Northern Living” at Arctic Economics points to Tales from the Arctic and “Believe me now?”

How much per ounce?

Kennie (at Tales from the Arctic) features a bunch of unbelievable prices.  Getting goods to towns in the far north of North America, in Canada and Alaska, is a major production.  Transportation and handling kick prices up a bit.

We’ll find out how alert Sarah Palin is when somebody asks her the price of a gallon of milk . . .

More seriously, economics teachers might find some object lessons in these photos, and a good presentation on supply and demand, and the costs of distribution.

Milk at $8.50 a gallon? Even in Canadian currency, that burns.

I wonder:  Do prices like these make economics any easier to teach to high school kids?  Does the urgency of high prices make the subject more relevant?

Tip of the frozen scrub brush to Arctic Economics, of course.


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