Monday, January 29, 2007

American rants.

There are two things concerning American paraphernalia that are bugging me at the moment:

1. The existence of pennies. Given current prices, I'm pretty sure that it's about time for the penny to go the way of the British ha'penny. Pennies are just useless. Toll booths don't accept them. Nor do snack machines, or really any machines. Nobody ever needs pennies. Nickels would do just as well. It's like playing Monopoly without the $1 bill—simpler and more efficient. Retail shops could even continue to use the denomination in order to make prices seem lower, similar to how gas stations price gallons at $x.xx and nine-tenths of a cent. It might actually sell more items, because all the consumer would have to do is purchase three items with a price ending of $x.x4 or $x.x9, and they save an extra two cents. Furthermore, since pennies are made of zinc and just coated with copper, the current price of zinc has actually made the cost of producing the penny higher than the actual face value of the coin. I'm sorry. I collect squashed pennies, and I would be sad to have my collection suddenly grind to a halt. But it's not worth it. Pennies are stupid. I hate having them in my wallet, I hate receiving them as change, I hate having to count them out, and I hate finding them everywhere. The era of the penny is over. Let's just accept it and move on.

2. The mis-flying of the American flag. Now, I would never own an American flag, even one of those little ones on sticks that they sometimes pass out at sporting events, much less actually fly one from any property that I owned or rented. But I still think that if one should choose to have an American flag, and to fly that flag so that it is publicly visible, that they must fly it correctly. After all, choosing to fly the American flag implies a certain belief on the part of the flag-flyer in the principles represented by the flag, as well as a support for the American government.

Given that, then, there are specific rules governing the use of the American flag and how it is and is not to be flown. They are fairly straightforward, and easy to find online in case of confusion. They should be followed. If you don't want to follow the rules, you probably shouldn't be flying the flag in the first place.

What has specifically annoyed me at the moment is the way the flag was (or was not) lowered to half-staff in honour of Gerald Ford's death. I had assumed that, this being DC, everyone would be following Ford's death enough to know that the president ordered the flag to be flown at half-staff for a period of 30 days (until January 24), as is standard for the death of a U.S. president. I was wrong. Maybe one out of every three American flags that I noticed during this 30-day period was at half-staff. This annoyed me. But the thing that pushed me over the edge is only happening now. Today is January 29, 5 days after the end of the 30-day period, and yet I have noticed nearly as many American flags at half-staff today as I did on any other day during the 30-day period.

People. Get it straight. Fly your flags the way they're supposed to be flown, or take them down and get over it.

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