“The Hawaiian flag…is suggestive of the prominent political elements of the Islands. It is part French, part English, part American, and is Hawaiian in general.”
- Mark Twain, Letters from Hawaii
There’s something strange about the sight of the Hawaiian flag, about seeing a banner with the Union Jack so prominent flying over a part of the United States. And yet, the more I travelled in Hawaii, the more appropriate its design seemed to be, the more its presence seemed to sum up the history and character of the islands.
It’s not the only American state flag to incorporate elements of a foreign country’s ensign; Iowa is built around a French tricolour, while Florida and Alabama uses the old Spanish Cross of Burgundy. But Hawaii seems different to them – the Spanish connection in the latter two are too obscure to stand out, while Iowa adds a bald eagle to proudly indicate its American identity. Hawaii, though, the British flag remains recognisably unchanged, and while the stripes feel American, the addition of blue to the familiar red-white pattern gives a sense that this is a culture still not entirely American.
The borrowed crosses of the Union Jack seem quite at home as symbols of Hawaii. They form an eight-pointed star to go with the eight stripes for eight islands. And as the symbol of a foreign nation, they also make it hard to forget that Hawaii was itself a sovereign state, that this is not just the flag of an American state or territory, but of a nation outside the American sphere, whose people did not wish for annexation or absorption, but wished to carve out their own identity, like that of the other empires and kingdoms they'd encountered.
For that matter, the Union Jack in the corner calls to mind less Britain itself, but so many other flags built around that design. It almost seems like a symbol of Pacific identity, a reminder of the ancient connections between Hawaii and its neighbours - Fiji, the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, New Zealand, and the other nations of Polynesia that use such a design.
The more I saw the flag, the more I liked it. Kamehameha I could not have planned it when he designed his new kingdom’s banner, but the symbolism of it still works beautifully.
Obviously, this cannot stand. One of you is going to have to change! There’s precedent for this – Liechtenstein added a crown to their flag in 1936, after realising at the Olympics that year that their flag was identical to that of Haiti. Don’t suppose there’s a pretender to the Romanian throne out there who could be reinstalled to justify adding a crown to the flag?
What about a double-headed eagle? Come on, the country’s literally named after Rome, that gives it a better claim to that emblem than, say, Albania or Russia… No? What about Chad? Surely it’s got some sort of special national emblem it could add to its flag? Come on, one of these countries has to be able to think of something more interesting than yet another tricolour flag…
( Flags and symbols... )
Note the very western dragon on the Chinese flag – one suspects the artist was working from descriptions and hadn’t actually seen most of these flags. Similarly, the mangling of the Mexican coat of arms and the Hawaiian flag missing the blue stripes.
Don't know what the 'Moorish' flag is supposed to be, since Morocco is listed separately.
I’d also love to know what the ‘Cochin China’ flag really was. I’m pretty sure at best it’s a misidentification of some sort of personal standard as a national flag, but I have no idea where it could be from. I’m not even sure what the author thought it was – Cochin China could mean a lot of things.
Finding out that the stars represent a list of 16 Turkish states... which includes the Huns, the Golden Horde, and Tamerlane's empire, doesn't really help that impression.
Leave me a comment saying "Boom-cha" and I will respond by asking you five questions that satisfy my curiosity. Update your journal with the answers to the questions, including this in the post.
Questions by sunnyskywalker
1. What do you think happened to Talia Winters? Did they really dissect her like Bester said, or was he just trying to rile them?
I always thought dissecting Talia seemed a bit of a waste of resources – even if Talia 2.0 couldn’t access Talia’s telekinetic powers, presumably she still has the ability and the priority should have been on getting it to work again so the Corps could study a living subject and telekinesis in action.
Then again, the alternate personality might not have been designed for long-term operation and might have shut down on its own – considering Talia 2.0’s subtle reaction to being exposed is to pull a weapon on Lyta in front of a half-dozen witnesses while bellowing Psi-Corps slogans, one kind of gets the impression it was a rush job and perhaps not too smart when left unattended.
Anyway, I’m an optimist, and I prefer to think that Talia survived somehow and was eventually restored. Bester might not even have been intentionally lying – he is somewhat out of the loop when it comes to some of the internal conspiracies in the Corps. Maybe Talia was transferred over to Bureau 13 with death and dissection as a cover story.
And I have – admittedly slim – evidence to support the theory that she was restored. Sleeping in Light, when everyone toasts to absent friends, Talia isn’t one of the dead characters named. Granted, neither is Lyta, but nobody was really close to her except Zack, and he’s not there. So I say, that proves it, obviously she wasn’t named because as of 2281, she’s not dead!
And I refuse to listen to any arguments to the contrary.
2. Tell me your thoughts on orcs, of any brand.
I’ve always had an affection for orcs, going back to when I was a kid and I used to collect Warhammer model soldiers. In the Warhammer game system, the Orc and Goblin army was one of the most unreliable, with special rules to represent the tendencies of orcs to fight among themselves rather than the enemy, the unreliability of most orc weapons, and the generally uncontrollable nature of an orc horde – Orc wizards sometimes overloaded their brains with too much magic and exploded, some of their special unit moved a random amount each turn. Fun army, very characterful, not very effective, but more fun to play than the disciplined, organised ranks of an elf or dwarf army.
One of the things I like about orcs is that they tend to fit into the pseudo-dark ages society most fantasy worlds are permanently stuck in a lot better than chivalrous knights or refined elves. Why’s Gorbad the Stabber the boss? Because he’s got an army of orcs behind him who beat the crap out of anyone who disagrees. What have you got to say to that, Mr. Rightful Heir, True King, Last of Your Ancient Line? Why are we at war with this kingdom? Are we reclaiming our ancestral lands? Are we fighting a last heroic stand against the forces of evil? No, but our soldiers are getting restless and they’ve got shiny things we want. It’s a bit more honest to just admit you rule by strength of arms and brutality, and more true to how most noble dynasties originally rose to power…
3. How did you get into vexillology? Was it just too cool a word?
Flags and coats of arms are one of those things I’ve always been interested in. Unfortunately, most countries to have gained independence in the last few decades have picked terrible flags. Bosnia’s flag seems to have been designed primarily to communicate “We really want EU membership!”. Kosovo stuck a map of their country on the flag, which seems to be missing the point of a flag as an iconic representation of the country. Montenegro just went with their coat of arms on a coloured background, which again seems to be missing the point of having a flag – a mistake a fair number of US State flags have also made. Eritrea just hurts my eyes to look at – I think it’s the red and green right next to each other. Turkmenistan stuck a strip of carpet on their flag, which, well, A-plus for creativity, minus several million for aesthetics, yes?
On the plus side, East Timor came up with a very nice and distinctive design, and most of the former Soviet Republics came up with interesting flags.
And, no, I’m not a fan of Australia’s current flag – looks like a colonial flag, and too similar to New Zealand. Unfortunately, I suspect an Australian Republic flag would be much worse; I’d like to see the Eureka flag chosen, but that’s probably got too much political baggage.
4. Besides Kirk and Spock, who learns Spock Prime's identity? Sarek? The Admiralty? No one?
I assume the Federation was kind of hush-hush about what happened in general – nobody wants to know they’re living in an alternate timeline, and you don’t want other governments trying to work out how to send their ships back in time – or how to make contact with their
counterparts in alternate realities.
I imagine Spock Prime would tell as few people as possible – he probably doesn’t want to be pestered every other week with Starfleet demands for information on future events. Sarek probably knows – hmm, and maybe Pike too. Spock was very loyal to the guy in the prime timeline, it makes sense that if he was going to contact anyone in Starfleet, it’d be him.
5. What is the coolest translation you've done in Greek?
One of the most fun was when we were assigned a passage from Aristophanes’ The Clouds. The point of the exercise, as the teacher explained afterwards, was to check how confident you were at translating when the correct translation produced sentences like “And then he took the flea and dipped its feet in wax. And so it had Persian slippers on its feet!” – the sort of result that makes it very easy to assume you must have screwed up somewhere…