Random Points for August 24


I'm still working on my post on the Myth of the Liberal Surplus. You should see it in the next couple of days. Any comments on the Myth of the Liberal Deficit?

According to Yahoo News, unrestricted Internet use has finally come to Iraq.

This will, in the long run, ensure more peace and democracy for the country of Iraq than any number of soldiers... assuming they can get the power back on.

Here's a question for my American friends: if and when Puerto Rico is named the 51st state of the union, how will they arrange the stars on the U.S. flag?

Right now, the 50 stars on the flag (link courtesy of the Flag of the United States of America) are elegantly arranged in two overlapping rectangles of 6x5 (30 stars) and 5x4 (20 stars). The confluence of numbers means that the smaller rectangle of 20 stars can be centred in the larger rectangle, with each star of the smaller rectangle surrounded at four points by four stars of the larger rectangle. It's a neat arrangement.

Before Alaska and Hawaii became states, there were 48 stars on the flag, and that also fits into a nice rectangle of eight stars wide and six stars down.

But 51 stars? That's 17 stars wide by 3 stars down. Even breaking them up into two boxes of stars doesn't quite work, since 25 (5 x 5) and 26 (2 x 13) don't mesh easily.

I was thinking that this would be a good incentive to finally make the District of Columbia into a full-fledged state, but 52 doesn't mesh nicely either. Perhaps twin circles, then? With 26 or 27 stars on the outside and 25 stars on the inside, comparable to the arrangement of earlier flags? Or perhaps something else? Has anybody given this matter some thought?

Canada has a similar problem, though not with its flag. The House of Commons sits pretty much in the centre of the country. There are five provinces to the west (Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia), five provinces to the east (Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland) and three territories to the north (the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut).

In 1967, to celebrate Canada and this special arrangement, stain glass windows representing each province have been placed on the walls of the House of Commons chamber. I recall, listening to Speaker Gib Parent speaking to young adults participating in mock parliament on CPAC that, by coincidence, there were five windows available for the treatment on the west wall, five on the east side, and two on the north. This allowed the artist, Eleanor Milne to install stained-glass windows representing the four western provinces and Ontario on the western wall, and the four eastern provinces and Quebec on the eastern wall and the two territories on two of the three windows of the north. The project was completed in 1973.

There were only two northern territories in 1967, so there is no representation for Nunavut, which came into being in 1999. Fortunately, the presence of the third window in the north wall leaves open the possibility that the territory will get its own stained glass window in due course.

But what the heck do we do if we ever annex the Turks and Caicos Islands as our fourth territory?

Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, but can we knock out a window behind your chair?

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