July 4th, 2005


Context is everything

We had a hot evening, but a nice time staying overnight in the holler with Sassafras. She came home exhausted and covered with little burrs. It's going to take a while to get her fur clear.

Boy Scout that I am, I built a fire and lit it with only one match yesterday -- no paper, no accelerants (I've still got it). Then we grilled steaks. After supper, I stoked up the fire good and hot. Then I went and fetched two old, faded, ratty, full-sized US flags I'd been meaning to dispose of and burnt them.

The US Flag Code says that worn-out flags should be disposed of in a dignified manner, preferably by burning. The proposed amendment to the Consitution that the US House of Representatives keeps passing would outlaw any desecration of the flag -- and they have burning it as a form of protest in mind.

I'm as conservative as you like, but I think that amendment is a colossal waste of energy, as well as a bad idea on the merits. For it is only the context of the act which determines which burning is a proper, dignifed disposal of the symbol and which is an outrageous affront to the nation. Context in this case means both social context and the context of my personal intent. The government has no business regulating social contexts short of a riot (that's freedom of assembly for you), and sure as all get out has ZERO business mucking about inside my head.

I have spent my entire life showing honor to the flag, displaying it properly, caring for it conscientiously, and teaching new generations so to do -- and I think heavy-handed prohibitions from on high are stupid, as well as impugning the majesty of our Constitution by cluttering up its concise, clearly-written text.

More is Less (again)

I love fireworks. And I love fireworks shows. The Fourth of July has always been special to me for that.

So tonight, I went to the Greendale fireworks display. This is a big deal. Thousands of people come pouring in for this. You can meet anybody there. And it is the biggest display I've ever seen -- as big as (or bigger than) the closing show at a National Jamboree, and that's saying something.

Still, it sucked. Fireworks displays should start slow and build up. They should showcase individual pieces, leading up to pairs and groups, then building up to a grand climax where the ground shakes and the sky is lighted up like noon.

At Greendale, they just start hurling ordnance into the air. Everything goes off simultaneously, for as long as they can make it go, until they've burnt up everything in the inventory. It lasts a long, long time -- but, no theme, no class, no artistry.

I knew all this going in, but still -- it's fireworks, man. So I went. The fireworks were overwhelming, but somebody kept the damn PA system playing canned rockabilly crap at full volume. It was louder than the explosions! And it wasn't timed with the display -- hell, it wasn't even themed with the holiday. It was just noise. As if, the more noise, the better.

So I left early, to comfort my poor, freaked-out doggy. And to mourn for what might have been.
O tempora, O mores.