English Language Flag

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Today, the 23rd of April, is St. George’s Day — the patron saint of England. It is also William Shakespeare’s birthday, if you can believe such a co-incidence. And to add incredulity to unbelieveableness*, it is also UN Official English Language Day (chosen because it is the Bard’s birthday).

I’m English, and I’m an English teacher. I’m also a bit of a patriot, so it kind of irks when the US flag is used to represent the English language, such as on Duolingo. Although I do understand and accept the reasoning behind this choice (way more Americans than Britons).

Instead of either national flag, some people and organisations combine the British and American flags and use the resulting crossbreed to stand for the English language. This version’s pretty nifty:

UK-US_flag

And BioWare, my favourite computer game company, have used the Canadian flag!

All of these options work really well. But I wondered to myself, What if there was a dedicated English language flag? What would it look like?

This is my answer to that age-old and most vexing of all questions:

EnglishLanguageFlag

Behold! The English Language Flag!

I think it’s confirmed: I am a recidivistic vexillophile! See my other forays into the points realms of made up flags here and here and here!

What makes a good flag design? It should be well-balanced, distinctive, obey vexilololo flaggy rules, and somehow represent what it is supposed to be the flag of. And it should stand out!

WARNING: Boring, Long-winded Explanation Here Follows; Feel Free to Zone Out

I think mine hits the nails on the heads. But what does my flag design represent?

The central pink stripe and the white stripes directly above and below it copy the horizontal part of St. George’s cross in their proportion. And pink itself was the colour of the British Empire. Whatever you think of the British Empire, it is clear that English would not have its current global reach were it not for the Empire.

The blue section at the top directly echoes the blue background of both the US flag (albeit, only in the top-left) and the British flag. The United States, and its cultural, social, economic, political, and military clout, has continued what the British Empire began — the spread and further global entrenchment of English.

Now the thin lines in the bottom. Their proportion, and the alternation of white and non-white, are deliberately meant to echo the US flag. The colours are meant to stand for the various nations which use English: orange, white and green for India, red for both the US and UK amongst other nations.

I make no apologies for recognising British and then American domination; the history of these two nations is utterly impossible to divorce from the story of the English language itself.

What do you think of my design? Do you think I spend too much time worrying about flags, too little about getting a real job?

 

*that was supposed to allude obliquely to the expression “to add insult to injury”, but I fear a little too obliquely, dear reader.

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

The Stunning Fall of the British National Party

BNP_logo_edit

Some stunning facts about the rise and crash of the British National Party (BNP).

  • In 2008, Richard Barnbrook was elected to the London Assembley for the BNP; the party had achieved 5.3% of the vote (130,714 votes).
  • in the 2010 General Election, the BNP fielded a record high of 338 candidates (the fifth highest after Labour, Conservatives, LibDems, and UKIP) and polled 563,743 votes: the fifth highest number of votes, and twice the amount that the Green Party (who got a candidate elected) managed.
  • In May 2010, the BNP had over 14,000 members — more than UKIP.
  • By January 2015, the party had a mere 500 members.
  • In the 2015 General Election, the BNP will field only 8 candidates — half as many as the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.

The phrase “Pyrrhic Victory” springs to mind: the 2010 General Election was the BNP’s most successful, yet 267 of its candidates got less than 5% of the vote and so lost their deposit — costing the party £133,500. This more-or-less precipitated their decline.

Shit happens.

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image edited from http://www.sparksunderland.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/BNP_logo-620×250.jpg

References:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/general-election-2015-the-bnp-has-almost-vanished-from-british-politics-10176194.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_National_Party

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_general_election,_2010

http://www.bnp.org.uk/news/bnp-crashes-through-14000-membership-mark-%E2%80%94-party-now-larger-ukip

 

2015 General Election Manifestos & Policy Guide

 

 

General-Election-2015

The 2015 General Election is a mere 21 days away. Please read the manifestoes of each of the main parties. I’ve also included links to policy guides. Place your vote with full knowledge of the facts.

Policy Guide: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/manifesto-guide

Match the party to the policy: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/general-election-2015-video-can-you-match-the-party-policy-to-the-manifesto-10178937.html

Conservative Party Manifesto: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/apr/14/conservative-party-manifesto-2015-the-full-pdf

English Democrats Party Manifesto: http://www.englishdemocrats.org.uk/policies/full-manifesto.html

Green Party Manifesto: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/manifesto/Green_Party_2015_General_Election_Manifesto.pdf

Labour Party Manifesto: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/apr/14/labour-manifesto-2015-the-full-pdf

Liberal Party Mini Manifesto: http://www.liberal.org.uk/elections/manifesto.pdf

Liberal Democrat Party Manifesto: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/libdems/pages/8907/attachments/original/1429028133/Liberal_Democrat_General_Election_Manifesto_2015.pdf?1429028133

Libertarian Party, A Manifesto: http://libertarianpartyuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Libertarian-Manifesto.pdf
Libertarian Party 2015 Manifesto: http://libertarianpartyuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Manifesto-2015.pdf

National Liberal Party Manifesto: http://nationalliberal.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/GEManifesto.pdf

Plaid Cymru Party Manifesto: https://www.partyof.wales/uploads/Plaid_Cymru_2015_Westminster_Manifesto.pdf

Scottish National Party (SNP) Manifesto: <<forthcoming>>

United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) Manifesto: http://static.guim.co.uk/ni/1429097117463/theukipmanifesto2015.pdf

featured image from http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/article10057263.ece/binary/original/General-Election-2015.jpg

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

General Election 2015: Find Out What To Think, Next!

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The General Election is a mere 30 days away and the politicians are desperately trying to make us choose them instead of whatever else is on the menu. But instead of setting the menu aside and just going for the same old dependable slurry that you always pick, open your mind up to change. I find think this quiz is pretty good. Take it and see who you really agree with (instead of who you think you agree with or who you want to agree with).

Enjoy!

http://uk.isidewith.com/political-quiz

Dalai Lama Threatens to Defy the Laws of the Cosmos

Dalai-Lama-380-x-285

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the world’s Tibetan Buddhists. As you know from listening to Richard Gere or watching The Golden Child (or reading a book, I don’t know), when a Dalai Lama dies he is re-incarnated. At that point, top Buddhists rampage around the maternity wards of the world and perform scientific experiments (I imagine) to determine which sprog is the bona fide authentic reborn Dalai Lama. Unfortunately, the present Dalai Lama is not playing along.

Basically, the current Dalai Lama is in a huff with China for a bunch of stuff including China’s refusal to recognise the man he appointed as his Vice-Lama (technically known as the “Panchen Lama”). In retaliation, the Dalai Lama keeps threatening to not be reborn. Read that again, please: the Dalai Lama is threatening to circumvent the laws of the Cosmos and not be reborn.

How does that work? And before any Richard Gere fan sheeple Buddhist gives me a wiseacre explanation, let me just say: that was a rhetorical question! This whole thing is absurd. The Dalai Lama is getting dangerously close to pulling back the curtain and showing us the true nature of the Wizard. Religion is so self-evidently made up nonsense, whether it’s the Catholic Church deciding that there isn’t a place called “Limbo” after all or the Dalai Lama threatening to never be reborn again, that I am constantly amazed that some people still believe in it. And by “some people”, I mean around 84% of the world’s population(!)

Honestly, you could not write this stuff: atheist China demands the Dalai Lama is reborn; Dalai Lama threatens to circumvent the cosmically ordained law; the faithful become ever more faithful as religion becomes ever more absurd; the rest of us suffer the fallout of religiously inspired madness. Oh well, at least it keeps satirists in business.

References
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-32032790?OCID=fbasia

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/china-says-dalai-lama-profanes-buddhism-doubting-reincarnation-101635331.html#7HacLTc

http://www.thewire.com/global/2014/09/china-will-make-the-dalai-lama-reincarnate-whether-he-likes-it-or-not/380003/

http://www.pewforum.org/2012/12/18/global-religious-landscape-exec/

featured image from http://s1.firstpost.in/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Dalai-Lama-380-x-285.jpg

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

Fun Trivia of the Day

andorraHere’s a fun little bit of trivia.

Question:
Which sovereign nation has an elected monarch  as head of state, even though he is elected to this position by people of a different country to that which he reigns over?

Answer:
Andorra. This tiny European country, located in the Pyrenees between France and Spain, has two joint heads of state, both with the title co-Prince. One of these co-Princes happens to be whoever the current President of France is. This peculiar situation has persisted since the year 1278. So it clearly works, even though it sounds like it was dreamt up as a prank.

This makes Andorra the only sovereign nation with a monarch who is elected… by people of a completely different nation, for a completely different role(!) To further put this into perspective: the President of France is the only person who, at the same time, is the head of state both of a Republic and of a Monarchy.

Ah, the joyful peculiarity of Europe’s last few remaining microstates!

featured image from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4e/Coat_of_arms_of_Andorra.svg/2000px-Coat_of_arms_of_Andorra.svg.png

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

A Rhapsodic Post: Pi Day, Dates, and US vs UK English

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When I was scrolling through the http://www.duolingo.com message boards earlier today, I saw a post with the curious title “Happy Pi Day!”. I thought, ‘that’s odd’, so I clicked on the thread. The poster didn’t bother explaining what “Pi Day” was, and nobody else had posted, so I thought nothing else of it and clicked off.

But just now I’ve seen another reference to “Pi Day”. What the hell is this thing?, I thought. Being a trendy Londoner, I don’t like to feel I’m not “in on it”, whatever “it” is. Thankfully, this time the phenomenon was explained. “Pi Day” is the day when the date spells out the first few figures of pi (π):

3/14/15 (that is, 3.1415…)

Before I go on, Pi (π), if you thought it had something to do with tigers or boats, is the number which expresses the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its diameter (that is, the distance from edge to edge across the centre). So the circumference of a circle is 3.14159… times the distance across a circle.

Back to the topic at hand. Frankly, none of this “Pi Day” malarkey makes any sense whatsoever here in the UK. Here, the days and months take the reverse order: the fourteenth day of the third month is expressed “14/03″ not “03/14″ as in America. Therefore, there never can be a “Pi Day” in the UK.

So, like the “World Series”, everyone in the world can celebrate “International Pi Day” – so long as you only count America. Those Americans, eh: what are they like, with their misnomers, sports that no one else plays, and lack of passports, et cetera? Incidentally, the most annoying thing about American insularity is British newspapers who humour yanks by pretending that there even is such a thing as Pi Day!

Dating systems in the world: look who's on their own, being difficult to the sake of it, yet again...

Dating systems in the world: look who’s on their own, being difficult for the sake of it, yet again…

But really, like all differences between the UK and the US, there is a little rivalry, sure, but it’s mostly in jest and good natured. We shake our heads for their prudish use of “bathroom” when they want to ask where they can have a shit (it’s a called a “toilet”! You’re not off to have a bath, are you!? It won’t even have a bath in it in a public place!), and they shake their heads at our use of “u” in “colour”, “favour”, and “labour” despite none of these words having a “u” in the original form we borrwed them from French.

But who is right, who is wrong? Which system is better: 3/14/15 or 14/3/15?

I’ve always found the British system more logical for the very simple system that days come before months which themselves come before years. That is, day/month/year is logical inasmuch as we are going from smallet to largest. Furthermore, most of the world uses the same system as the UK.

Ergo, ipso facto (using Latin makes me both clever and right), the UK system — 14/03/15 — is clearly superior, and “Pi Day” is a sham based on an error.

On the other hand…

There is a third option, however, and that is to put the years first! My documents and files on my PC are actually organised in this way. I used to organise my files the British way, e.g., “14.03.2015_ApplicationForm”. But I very quickly, many years ago, gave up on the British system. Why? It’s simply that all 14s end up together in the UK system, when what we really want is all the years to be grouped together, followed by months, followed by days of that month. This system goes from largest unit to smallest, the opposite of the British system. It’s the most logical of all.

Which means that months really should come before days… But Pi Day is still a sham as it can never really occur… except for the 9th of May in the year 3141AD: 3141/5/9. How I long to see that historic Pi Day, the true Pi Day. It’ll be a long wait, but surely worth it.

featured image from http://logcabincooking.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/pi-day-61.jpg

map of the world’s date systems from http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Date_format_by_country

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

Islamic State: The Most Profane Group Ever?

Islamic State flag waving on the wind

sacrilege
[sakruh-lij]
noun

1. the violation or profanation of anything sacred or held sacred.
2. an instance of this.
3. the stealing of anything consecrated to the service of God.

 

In 2012, United States troops in Afghanistan carelessly disposed of old Korans by burning them. This action sparked retaliatory riots in which over twenty people died and hundreds were injured. The troops’ deeds drew widespread international condemnation and prompted President Obama to issue a grovelling apology to his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai. [Ref 1-3]

Iraq;_Nimrud_-_Assyria,_Lamassu's_Guarding_Palace_Entrance

The ancient city of Nimrud, now destroyed by Islamic State

As a self-professed book-lover, you can imagine what the thought of burning any book does to me. The mummified remains of my old books, too battered to even be accepted by Oxfam,  are held together with sellotape bandaging. But destroying a holy book! I’m an atheist, and even I’m not okay with that.

But if burning a copy of a holy book, of which there are millions of other copies, is a sacrilegious and profane act — and I think as a general rule that it is –, then what do we call the destruction of ancient statues and cities, of which only one copy exists and which can never be reproduced? “Profane” and “Sacrilege” don’t seem to be strong enough words.

I am of course talking about the ignoramuses of Islamic State who have now destroyed the ancient city of Nimrud. [Ref 4] This city was a world treasure, now it’s trash. But now IS have announced that they will soon destroy Hatra — the 2300 year old city, featured in the film The Exorcist, heralded as “one of the most impressive of Iraq’s archaeological sites”. [Ref 5] It’s so impressive, in fact, that Saddam Hussein zestily began restoration work. [Ref 6] Saddam Hussein: genocidal dictator, and connoisseur of fine art, apparently. The irony of this situation, IS taking filling the vacuum left by Saddam Hussein who we toppled, can be lost on no one.

Hatra_ruins

The ancient city of Hatra: next on Islamic State’s hitlist

If the names Nimrud and Hatra don’t quite stir you up, imagine instead The Great Pyramids of Giza being bulldozed. That is the exact kind of sacrilege and profaneness we are talking about here. This is an affront to the very dignity of mankind. In the words of UNESCO, “With this latest act of barbarism against Hatra, (the IS group) shows the contempt in which it holds the history and heritage of Arab people”. And I would add, “and of all people”.

Islamic State’s cultural barbarity surely now far exceeds that of the Taliban and their infamous 2001 destruction of the 1500 year old, 180 and 121 foot high Buddhas of Bamiyan.

Islamic State are causing untold suffering, not just through the brutal treatment, torture and killing of innocents, not just through the vile regime they are presiding over, and through the instability and damage they are doing to world order and the untold increase in misery and suffering that they bring. But more than that, they are busily destroying mankind’s heritage, wiping out man’s history. This is the very definition of profane, the very definition of sacrilege.

The 180 foot high Bamiyan Buddha, before and after improvement works carried out by the Taliban in 2

The 180 foot high Bamiyan Buddha, before and after improvement works carried out by the Taliban in 2001

Any tinpot group of idiots can kill or torture a few hostages, but it takes a special brand of evil and demented idiocy to commit such acts of sacrilege. UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova has accurately condemned the destruction, saying, “The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime.” [Ref 7] There can be no doubt of this: it is every bit a war crime as their savage executions. Islamic State surely is the most flagrant case of false advertising ever; the very name suggests piety and holiness, yet IS show themselves to be the most profane and sacrilegious group in recent history.

The question is, what do we do about it? The destruction of these sites is not merely a mild aggravation, the demolition of a bunch of decayed old stuff, interesting only to a motley bunch of university lecturers. These Islamic State acts of cultural vandalism are nothing short of a savage attack on mankind’s dignity, an attempt to make real Orwell’s nightmare scenario: total enslavement of mankind’s future by destruction of mankind’s past.

Hard decisions need to be made. The region must be re-stabilised. Therefore, Kurdish independence or deposing Assad in Syria are both off the menu for the foreseeable future. And surely a strong Iraqi state must form the centrepiece of any solution. But how to achieve that? I was 100% against the War in Iraq. Yet that mistake of a war cannot now be undone. Therefore, I’m dragged to an upsetting conclusion: it may be time to face facts and realise that only sending the troops back into Iraq will restore 0rder. We’ve been left militarily, ideologically, and emotionally exhausted by the Iraq War, yes. The last intervention in Iraq caused the mess we’re in now, undoubtedly. But we either intervene militarily right now, or we wait until Iraq falls into chaos and we are forced to send the troops in then — not to depose an enfeebled leader, Saddam Hussein, but a vigorous and fanatical IS regime. Better to cut this cancer of Islamic State out now before it metastasises.

References
[Ref 1] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/obama-forced-to-apologise-to-karzai-for-koran-burnings-in-afghanistan/story-e6frg6so-1226280166800

[Ref 2] http://www.stripes.com/news/afghanistan-suffers-deadliest-day-of-protests-1.169698?localLinksEnabled=false

[Ref 3] http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/24/world/asia/afghanistan-burned-qurans/index.html?hpt=wo_c2

[Ref 4] https://uk.news.yahoo.com/militants-bulldoze-ancient-city-iraq-001856680.html#S2cF9hq

[Ref 5] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/1450907/American-troops-launch-Exorcist-tour-at-ancient-temple.html

[Ref 6] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-2982142/IS-bulldozed-ancient-Assyrian-city-Nimrud-Iraq-says.html

[Ref 7] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-militants-bulldoze-ancient-assyrian-site-of-nimrud-10089745.html

image of Nimrud from http://pri-113a.kxcdn.com/sites/default/files/story/images/Iraq%3B_Nimrud_-_Assyria,_Lamassu’s_Guarding_Palace_Entrance.jpg

image of Hatra from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hatra_ruins.jpg

image of larger Bamiyan Buddha from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhas_of_Bamiyan#mediaviewer/File:Taller_Buddha_of_Bamiyan_before_and_after_destruction.jpg

featured image from http://www.ccwa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/islamic-state-flag-sm.jpg

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

 

 

International LADS’ Day 2015

Celebrities Visit SiriusXM Studios - June 21, 2013

It was International Women’s Day on the 7th of March. I say: Bah humbug! What about us men!? Well, luckily enough, I set a day up for us last year: INTERNATIONAL LADS’ DAY. It’s celebrated on the 26th of July, the birthday of the most ultimate and legitimate lad to have ever walked the earth: Jason Statham.

So don’t be downhearted. Our day is coming soon.

featured image from http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1419746/thumbs/n-JASON-STATHAM-large570.jpg

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry