Flags flutter over every state capital in the U.S. They bear emblems symbolizing the states they represent: a boldface C for Colorado, a lone star for Texas. They adorn magnets, mugs and T-shirts. They fly at half-staff in mourning.
But state flags can also become objects of contention — especially when lawmakers try to change them, as my colleagues Sarah Almukhtar and Mitch Smith reported. Some of the disagreements are aesthetic. Others are nostalgic.
“People feel very attached and don’t like the idea of change,” Sarah said.
In March, Utah enacted a bill to replace the current flag — a century-old design featuring the state seal, an eagle perched atop a shield — with a red, white and blue homage to the state’s mountains, canyons and early settlers. Many liked the new standard, but opponents bristled at the idea of replacing a flag that was offending no one. “They’re trying to cancel our heritage,” one unhappy Utahn recently said while collecting signatures to put the flag to a statewide vote.
What makes a good flag? Experts and designers who spoke to Sarah and Mitch favor simplicity, distinctiveness and symbols that are legible from a distance. Some of the most iconic include Alaska’s, which looks like the night sky splashed with a constellation of stars; Maryland’s, with its unique black-on-yellow and red-on-white geometric patterns; and California’s, which features a loping grizzly bear above the words “California Republic.”
And when a flag fails to unite, some Americans just go their own way. In Maine, where I grew up, it’s common to see flagpoles topped with a version of the banner the state first adopted in 1901, which depicts a pine tree and a blue star, instead of the current flag, which sets the state’s coat of arms against a navy backdrop.
“The purpose of a flag is for it to be flown,” Sarah said. “Regardless of what’s official, the people have chosen which one is theirs.”
Sarah and Mitch’s interactive story lets you compare state flags and see how they’ve changed.
Test your knowledge of the many colors, mottoes and symbols that festoon flags with this quiz.
The Sunday question: Do the authorities in Georgia have a stronger case against Trump than the special counsel?
The 41-count Georgia indictment “is so complicated and involves so many people that any trial will be difficult to conduct,” Carl Leubsdorf writes in a syndicated column in The Seattle Times, adding that the special counsel’s four-count indictment is “tightly drawn.” But for all its complexity, the Georgia case “is by far the most comprehensive” of the indictments against Trump, Austin Sarat writes in The Hill, and will serve as “a forum to examine the damage he has done to our democracy.”
Dr. Peter Attia is the co-author of “Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity,” which has been a runaway best seller since it was published in March. I spoke to him earlier this year about how to live longer and healthier.
If you were to say to someone, “If you don’t do anything else to increase your health span, at least start doing X,” what would X be?
Many people, I think, are underemphasizing strength training. There’s the sense that, Yep, I’m hiking, I’m walking. Those things are great, but the sine qua non of aging is the shrinkage or atrophy of Type 2 muscle fiber. That’s the thing we probably have to guard most against, and you can’t do that without resistance training.
You’re asking people to pay a significant amount of attention to the specifics of their nutrition, physical activity and sleep. Don’t you think there’s a danger of pathologizing these normal things by micromanaging them and linking them to potential risks?
That’s possible. The question is: What is the balance of benefit versus harm? We’re probably still in a world where a majority of people are not paying enough attention to those things, as opposed to too many people paying too much attention.
If I decide to become hyperfocused on well-being in the hope that I’ll be healthier and have more quality time to spend when I’m older — why give away all this time and energy when I’m still relatively young and healthy?
I see it as an optimization problem. I could say, “I am going to spend this summer in Ibiza, partying with my friends, never lifting a finger, and boy, will I have fun.” But the price I will pay with my health is too great.
Read more of the interview here.