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I'm a DFLer, and I agree with most if not all of the objections to our current state flag. It is too lazy, too complicated to make out from a flagpole, and way too dated once you are close enough to see details.
Yet the process described in Monday's Star Tribune is nothing short of awful ("State flag do-over raised at Capitol," front page). Excluding input from across the state and political spectrum and devising a timeline to ramrod a new design through before the next election will only yield a Democrat flag, not a state banner. Yet another symbol to divide us — and seriously, don't we have enough of those? Take the time, build consensus across the state and get it right.
Patrick Pfundstein, St. Paul
Before listening to any of these woke legislators or self-appointed community leaders, please take a look at the Minnesota state flag and tell me what you yourself see.
If I was racist, I would not want a Native American on my property, say nothing about putting him on my flag, but Minnesotans did, and they did so in a manner showing the Native American and settler getting along with each other, with one riding by as the other works the land. I'm betting whoever looks at our state flag and sees a racist image would also see racist images when taking a Rorschach inkblot test. In other words, it's not the state flag that's the problem.
There is no reason to change the state flag. It provides an accurate representation of the founding and history of this state — the trees, water and land. It shows the inhabitants coexisting peacefully. Let's stop trying to change that.
Bret R. Collier, Big Lake, Minn.
I wholeheartedly support the Legislature's drive to redesign the Minnesota state flag. As a volunteer educator, I often speak with families and school groups about the flag. Through these discussions, it has become clear to me that the current emblem is a whitewashed vision of our state's most painful history and has no relevance for today's Minnesotans.
As readers may know, there are two people on the flag, a white farmer and a Native American on a horse. These two figures first appeared in the Minnesota State Territorial Seal (1849). The clear intention of the artist Seth Eastman was to show the American Indian riding into the sunset, a poetic metaphor for white leaders' attempts to ethnically cleanse native tribes from Minnesota. The flag and seal have been tweaked since 1849, but whenever I ask people whether the farmer and the Native American is an accurate representation of the history of white and Indian people, the answer is a resounding, "No!"
Kids simply do not relate to that flag. So many different groups of people have come to our state since 1858. The two figures on our flag do not represent the diversity of our people. If we were to try to do that, we would probably fill up the emblem with different faces!
There are those who argue that changing the flag means we are losing our history. My response is to learn history from books (at least the ones that aren't banned yet!).
Stuart Henry, Minneapolis
CLIMATE AND ENERGY
Extreme terms are more than 'hype'
In the opinion piece "Millions of Americans in the path of weather hype" (Opinion Exchange, Jan. 31), the author supports his argument by stating that traditional weather descriptions like the "Alberta clipper" have been replaced by "more threatening" terms like "polar vortex" or "bomb-cyclones" to explain extreme weather. The author also argues that severe droughts, floods and hurricanes are now making the headlines more often, primarily because of large population growth, especially in areas of the U.S. that are affected by these weather events.
I agree that weather terminology is definitely not the same as it was 50 or 60 years ago. But there are many valid reasons besides hype that explain why this vocabulary is now more extensive, and also more necessary. For example, the World Meteorological Organization reported that globally, severe weather has increased by a factor of five over this short period, a finding that is also in line with many other peer-reviewed studies. And all this should not be a big surprise, especially since during this time, the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere has increased from about 10 gigatons per year to 40 gigatons. Moreover, these changes have also pushed the level of CO2 in the atmosphere from about 320 ppm to 420 ppm, the highest level in 4 million years.
And, while population growth is a factor in the climate change scenario, it is certainly not the most significant factor. I say this because the world's population has approximately doubled over the past 50 years, but it has not increased by five times.
So yes, the media has become more focused on reporting extreme weather, using a different vocabulary than we're probably used to. But is downplaying this maybe uncomfortable news and not acting aggressively to combat climate change the path we should follow? I'd say not.
J.R. Clark, Minneapolis
Remember the alkaline battery? It promised longer life. Bunnies ran longer. Then the cadmium (deadly heavy metal) batteries. Then lithium batteries. Remember boilers fired by coal to drive steam turbines? Then the advent of the gas turbine for domestic power generation and the use of natural gas as the "clean" fuel? Technology has changed many times.
As a materials scientist and development engineer in the aerospace industry, I've watched these and many other technologies evolve over the past 40 years. Nanotechnology, meta-materials, new physics and superconductivity have all come to fruition in the past 20 years.
I retired after those 40 years of technical overstimulation. The leaps we have made in the past 20 years — nay, the past 10 years — are beyond comprehension. I had to retire. I just couldn't keep up.
So now, we are heading into the carbon-free era. How are we going to live without combustion? The doubters and cynics all say that green power generation is unreliable as it depends on the weather. There is no way it can provide steady, consistent power to we the people.
O ye of little faith. We have 17 years until 2040. Do you really think we won't come up with solutions to your perceived showstoppers? I predict that the energy world we will be living with in 2040 will be so far advanced over today's technology base, it will be comparable to today's technology vs. that barely functional 1950s paradigm.
Working in the materials engineering realm for many years, I have become something of a futurist. That's a person who extrapolates current developments into the future to get a glimpse of what's coming. Stand by, folks. Your scientific and engineering community is going to dazzle you. Some years ago in the tech community we had a saying that went, "For every liberal artist who says it can't be done, there is an engineer doing it."
And as to the future of green power — stand by, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
Harald Eriksen, Brooklyn Park
CHINESE SPY BALLOON
Tell us what we want to know
I suggest we rename the upcoming State of the Union address on Tuesday to the "State of the Ballunion address." Maybe then we'll get some answers why we let this Chinese balloon float all the way from the Aleutian Islands across the continental U.S. before we finally shot it down ("Navy divers search for balloon debris," Feb. 6). Either way, I'm expecting a rather deflating speech.
Steve Hayden, Eden Prairie
The U.S. discovers a Chinese spy balloon over Montana, and the secretary of state postpones a trip to talk with the Chinese government ("Blinken scraps China trip over suspected spy balloon," Feb. 4).
I thought a diplomat's role was talking with other governments, especially when there's something to talk about.
Roxie Aho, Oakdale