Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Flags, part 2

In the middle of the summer, I posted about flags.  And almost immediately after I posted, I came across more flag trivia.  Well, I wasn't going to bother amending that post... but I'm STILL finding out new flag bits and pieces .. and I'm not even looking for them!

But the bits and pieces are piling up, so I thought I'd share them.  

Last time, I talked about the fact that Lichtenstein and Haiti used to have the same flag, and I've discovered that this isn't unique.  The countries of Chad and Romania also have the same flag (although some would argue that the blues are slightly different).  But there's actually a decent reason for this.  At the time that Chad adopted its flag, the Romanian flag had a coat of arms in the middle.  After Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown, the coat of arms was removed... leaving the two flags essentially identical.  Unlike the Lichtenstein/Haiti situation, everyone involved knows of this identity crisis, but apparently no one cares.

And there are other flags that are identical except for dimension... but that's kind of not really identical, is it?

Actually, I found the other extreme to be more interesting.  That is - governments that have a two-sided flag. Hmmm.. before I can talk about two-sided flags, I suppose I have to point out that there are two kinds of two-sided flags --  although I'm sure that Betsy Ross would find both kinds to be equally frustrating.  The first kind is where there's a person's profile, or an animal facing a certain way, so the picture has to be flipped on the other side.  That's certainly a two-sided flag in the sense that you can't just stitch the colors on one side and have them go all the way through... but that's actually not the kind that caught my attention..  rather, I was drawn to the notion of flags where the front and the back are totally different pictures.  The state of Oregon has the state seal on one side, and a picture of a beaver on the other.  There's also a province in Argentina, a city in Bulgaria, and a few other flags that are truly different on one side from the other.  It's not really clear why -- I'm guessing it was a simple matter of people being unable to agree... and after all, isn't that what government is all about!

And then ---  I found out about the flag of Mars.  The flag of Mars is a tri-color flag used by the Mars Society and the Planetary Society.  Technically, it's not the official flag of Mars, as an official flag has to be adopted by a government, and Mars has no government.  But the flag has flown in space (aboard the Discovery), and it currently flies at the Mars Arctic Research station on Devon Island (in Canada).  So that makes it official in my book!

Reading about the flag of Mars, made me think back to when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted a flag on the moon, back in 1969.  I know that I have to periodically replace my flags because they start to get worn and torn by the wind and weather... what about the moon flag? First, it turns out there are 6 US flags on the moon.. they were planted by Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17.  Next, 5 of them are actually still standing.  They're not truly blowing in the breeze of course, there is no breeze...there's a wire that runs along either the top or bottom so that it looks like the flag is blowing.  But - interestingly enough - they've all been faded by the sun  (duh!!!) and so now, all of them are plain white flags.  In addition to the flags planted by the US, China, Japan, the former Soviet Union, and the European Space Agency have also put flags on the moon. If those flags are not already plain white, they will be.  Different dimensions perhaps, but ultimately, all identical.  
I kind of like that.
Wonder what Sheldon would make of that?

While I ponder that question, I'll drink my tea.

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