Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

– Abraham Lincoln, 19 November 1863

Oregon flies this from the pole?

Oregon’s state flag is just short of a monstrosity. The front has minute details in a seal that are nearly impossible to see on a flag. This double-sided beast is expensive to make and doesn’t fly well because it is so heavy.
The front.
Front
The back actually could stand on its own as a flag. (The image would usually be depicted the reverse of this since the beaver would be displayed looking at the hoist.)
Back

Here are a few alternates in order of my preference.

The first is a complete change, other than keeping some yellow and blue from the original. The blue represents the rivers and ocean of western Oregon; the gold the wheat fields of eastern Oregon. The green and the tree are symbols unique to Oregon. 33 stars for the 33rd state.
My favorite.

The next two pull the beaver from the reverse of the current flag and incorporate the 33 stars. They are very basic, but easily recognizable.
2nd
A variation on the stars.3rd

© 2013 John Schneider. All rights reserved.

A few more flags for Utah

Here are a few more alternate flags for Utah, starting with the one I think is best.

I include the red to represent the red rocks of southern Utah, including the arch created by the charges. The blue represents the lakes of northern Utah and the white the snow. 45 stars for the 45th state, and the beehive as the state emblem.
My best Utah flag alternate

This is intended to remind the observer of the United States flag, and the blue and red are even the official colors. Again the 45 stars and the beehive.
2nd

This was actually the precursor to my favorite above.
3rd

© 2013 John Schneider. All rights reserved.

An alternate flag for Utah

Most flags for states of the union are terrible from a vexillological standpoint. A simple redesign of the Utah flag changes this carnival of symbols
Utah Flag
into this simple design. A redraw
The redraw maintains the major Utah-specific symbolic elements of the original while making it quicky recognizable.

I understand perfectly well that the green stems really shouldn’t be placed against the blue field. This, however, is no worse than the white lilies against the white escutcheon. A little bit of frimbriation could take care of that. Or the sego lilies could be completely eliminated.

For more of vexillology, go to the NAVA home page. Or check out the Wikipedia page.

A busted political myth

College degrees per capita by state political leaning

A common myth perpetuated by Democrats, the news media, and entertainment is that Republicans are stupid and uneducated. This chart clearly debunks the myth. It also highlights a very important irony. Popular culture universally agrees that everyone in Washington DC are idiots, yet they have the highest number of degrees per capita.

The college degree data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics. The political makeup of state governments comes from Wikipedia’s list of United States state legislatures and list of current United States governors and represents the years 2011-2012.

Nebraska is excluded because its legislature is non-partisan. The District of Columbia calculation for % Democratic leaning uses the city council in place of both the upper and lower houses and the mayor in place of the governor.

Counting the cost of an election

Cost of living by state

The cost of living data comes from the ACCRA Cost of Living Index for 2011 (the most current data available). The political makeup of state governments comes from Wikipedia’s list of United States state legislatures and list of current United States governors and represents the years 2011-2012.

Nebraska is excluded because its legislature is non-partisan. The District of Columbia calculation for % Democratic leaning uses the city council in place of both the upper and lower houses and the mayor in place of the governor.

$1.00 represents the average cost of living in the United States as a whole. Most states are subdivided into multiple areas and the cost of living calculated for each individual area. In this chart, the solid points are the median cost of all areas within a state. The error bars denote the highest and lowest cost areas within the state. The most extreme example of varied costs in a state is New York, where the median is $1.13, but the highest (New York City) is over $2.20.

Taxes are not included in the cost of living index. We can infer from this chart that including them would only make the differentiation larger.