Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Lit City Blues Endorsements

For President:

No Endorsement

I have two degrees in Political Science. I'm not an idiot. I know that with the type of voting system we have, a high number of parties just isn't going to happen. However, there is absolutely no data to back up the notion that we're stuck with only two parties either. If there's a bedrock principle of my political belief system, it's this. We need a credible, viable alternative. It doesn't have to be large party, it just has to be medium sized and real enough that voters have a place to go when the other two parties are pissing them off.

So, yes, I look at all the candidates. If you're on the ballot in all 50 states or at least on the ballot in enough states to get to 270 electoral votes, you pass my viability test. After the dust settled and I perused all the websites I was left with three candidates: Johnson, Stein and Clinton. Johnson, despite his need for an atlas and a subscription to The Economist presents a skeptical approach to foreign policy that is desperately needed. He's also got the right idea on civil liberties and the War on Drugs. Stein and the Green Party have the most comprehensive platform for democratic and political reform out there- they're the only people talking about it (and it's a large part of the reason why I voted for Stein in 2012.) Both Stein and Johnson are talking about ideas that should be part of our political debate and discourse and both have important things to say and stand for issues that I support.

However, I can't exactly dismiss Secretary Clinton out of hand either. Of all the candidates I looked at, her website was the most comprehensive in terms of issues. It took forever to get through everything. You may not like her, but you can't tell me she doesn't have an idea of where she wants to take the county. You can't say that she doesn't have plans and details of those plans right out where people can see them. She's the only candidate talking about relief for folks struggling with student debt (like myself) and paid family leave (another issue that I support.)

But I'm less than impressed with her foreign policy credentials. She voted for the War in Iraq and was one of the prime movers behind our intervention into Libya, which is looking increasingly ill-judged given the chaos that's erupted in the wake of the overthrow of Gaddafi. Her foreign policy would represent a continuation of the interventionism of the past decade and a half, not an end. That fact alone is enough to give me pause.

The Email Mess rankles. But it's a fact of life that the rich and powerful get to play by a different set of rules than the rest of us and it's not like me not voting is going to send a message that the rich and powerful are going to give a shit about it. If the Republican Party had, say, nominated literally anyone else with a pulse, there might be room to take a principled stand on the issue. But Mr. Trump's recent comments and history prove that he too suffers from the same problem and you'll have to forgive me: I doubt he'll level the playing field between the rich and powerful and the rest of us either.

Look, there's about a 80-95% chance I'm going to hold my nose and vote for Secretary Clinton. Donald Trump's refusal to commit to accepting the results of the elections has probably pushed me over the top and if his well-deserved and karmic collapse in support is as wide and as deep as I hope it is, then (hopefully) I won't have to vote for Secretary Clinton unless I want too.

For US Senate:

Patty Judge

The whole Supreme Court mess doesn't really bother me all that much. Flip the political affiliations of all the people/branches of government involved and you'd probably have the same exact talking points being flung back and forth at each other- so it's kind of a moot point. No matter who's in charge of what branch, the confirmation system is kind of a mess and something of a political football, especially in election years. The old saw about not wanting to see how the sausage is made applies to this perfectly.

What does bother me, however, is Iowa and their lamentable tendency to appoint Senators, Governors and assorted Congresspeople for decades at a time. While in the case of Senator Grassley, it has landed him chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which means more access to more bacon to bring home for the state, it also means that he's been in Washington for decades and this year, I just think it's time for him to hang up the kleets and sail off into the sunset.

Senator Grassley is also on the record as being against reclassification of 911 Dispatchers from Administrative to Protective Services- which is disappointing as it's not like APCO is asking for the moon on a string or something that will cost a lot of money. They're asking for a change in how a job is classified that's not only more accurate but reflective of the changing nature of Emergency Dispatching.

While I didn't hear back from the Judge Campaign on this issue (Jim Hennager of the New Independent Party Iowa and Michael Luick-Thrams were also in favor of reclassification), I decided I was going to vote Democrat for this race- not just because I like the idea of having one Republican and one Democratic Senator (who would both be women) but because I'm becoming increasingly convinced the Republican Party needs some time in the wilderness to get it's collective shit together. Throw that together with my desire to see more turnover in Iowa's politicians (i.e. more than once a quarter-century) and an endorsement and a vote for Patty Judge seem like a good idea.

For US Congress:

Dr. Christopher Peters

I don't really have anything against Congressman Loebsack, but Dr. Peters impressed me on several fronts. First, I emailed him a couple of questions and he got back to me in about three hours flat. (Loebsack, Judge and Grassley didn't reply at all- the other party candidates came in well after the three hour mark.) He was remarkably open to the idea of reclassification of 911 Dispatchers from Administrative to Protective Services and gave me a good pitch on why I should vote for him.

So, I checked his website. For a Republican, he seems sane, sensible (there was a lack of social issues on his website that was extremely refreshing) and even thinks we should explore alternative voting mechanisms along with reforms to our Criminal Justice system. I haven't seen any polling on the 2nd District, so I don't know how tight of a race this is going to be- to be honest, I'm expecting Congressman Loebsack to win, but I was impressed with Dr. Peters. He gets my vote.

For State Legislature:

No Endorsements

Running unopposed? You don't get my endorsement. We're in a new District for this election, District 86 and while I have no problem with Mary Mascher and will probably vote for her, the fact that the local Republican Party can't even scare up a sacrificial lamb to at least give voters an option annoys me.

For County Offices:

No Endorsements

See above. Three Candidates for three seats on the County Board of Supervisors- gee, where is the suspense in this race? Ditto for Auditor and Sheriff. Will probably end up voting for all of them, but still. We can't find a single alternative here? There's not some lonely soul in a tinfoil hat that's going to step up and swat at the might Democratic Party machine?

Non-Partisan Offices:

No Endorsements

But hey! I did my research and I now know what the heck the Agricultural Extension Council and the Soil and Water Conversation Commission actual do. So, if I endorse anyone, it's me for informing myself on what all these obscure commissions on the back of the ballot actually do. (Side Note: This is why you should always flip your ballot! There's important stuff back here as well.)

Judicial Retention:

Yes To Retain On All

I changed my tune on this after the whole same sex marriage fiasco. The flood of outside money that came into the state to oust justices for doing their job was obscene. I don't agree with every decision that gets handed down by various courts on all levels in this country, but I don't pitch a nutty about it and try and burn the whole system down either. You have to trust the people who get appointed to these positions to do their jobs, even if you don't like what they come up with and I do. So, new rule: unless I see a specific reason (say, corruption, etc) to oust a judge, I'm voting to retain on all.

Iowa City Ballot Issue: Public Measure C:


I'm voting Yes, because it brings the charter in line with Iowa Code, which seems like something we should be doing anyway, but also, the arguments against this are unconvincing at best and irritating at worse. This doesn't apply to Charter Amendments (several of which, like say, a Directly Elected Mayor and Council Election Districts I think we need and would happily support) as the process for amending the Charter already follows Iowa Code. This would cover citizen led initiatives- like the drive to ban traffic cameras, prevent the 1st Avenue extension and, of course, the Bar Age Referendums. Our Charter does not allow initiatives to extend into already specified areas. (Taxes, city budget, zoning and the like) and the Charter Amendment Process already follows Iowa Code and charter revisions aren't covered by this Measure. If it helps increase participation in local democracy, I'm in favor.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Squawk Box: Luke Cage

Marvel and Netflix continue their astonishing run of critical success, this time with Luke Cage. First seen in Jessica Jones, Luke Cage follows the story of it's titular hero (Mike Colter) who finds himself in Harlem, trying to lay low and avoid confronting the many ghosts of his past. When Harlem's local crime boss, Cottonmouth Stokes (Mahershala Ali) seeking revenge for an arms deal gone wrong mows down Luke's employer, local barber and legend Henry 'Pop' Hunter (Frankie Faison), Luke realizes that he can use his strength and invulnerability to do some good and starts retaliating against Cottonmouth.

But Luke quickly realizes that he might have more than he bargained for on his hands, as Cottonmouth's cousin Mariah, (Alfre Woodard), a local politician with ambitions of her own proves to be a more formidable opponent than Luke realized, turning the community against him and leaving his isolated, on the run and with only Detective Misty Knight (Simone Missick) and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson, reprising her role from Daredevil and Jessica Jones) as his allies and a ghost from his past looming in the form of the powerful arms dealer Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey) who Luke must face in the biggest battle of them all.

There. I think that's a pretty decent synopsis that doesn't spoil too much- I can never seem to do credible summaries of the shows/movies I review and Luke Cage was no exception- because there are a few twists and turns I really don't want to give away if you haven't seen the show- but man oh man, is there a lot to talk about with this show. First of all: you can't escape how timely this is. A superhero who is African-American, bulletproof, super strong and wears a hoodie? Luke Cage is a hero for the modern age, that's for sure. But here's the deal: the show isn't afraid to talk about the complexities of race, but it doesn't get bogged down in it either.

Second, it portrays Harlem, like Hell's Kitchen as a very real place and that real brings the focus down from the lofty heights and Hollywood-ized New York City that people are used to seeing to something that feels a lot more visceral, gritty and well, real world than you might expect.

Third: I don't think it's all that big of a secret that women and minorities aren't that well written on television or in the movies for that matter- there are exceptions to this rule, but Luke Cage was like a breath of fresh air. Every single character in this show feels well-written, full developed and completely three dimensional. It's sad that the writing feels like such a revelation to me, but I can't discount the possibility that it's just me and not everyone else.

There's a lot to like about this show. The overall tone of the show acknowledges the blaxploitation roots of it's character, but does so in a contemporary way. There's a nod to the comics, as Luke just happens to find a yellow blouse and a tiara looking thing that made up his costume in one of his first appearances as Power Man. (You saw a similar nod in Jessica Jones and her costume.) Mike Colter continues perfectly inhabit this role. Simone Missick absolutely owns every scene she's in as Detective Misty Knight. (In the comics, her character has popped up everywhere- including X-Men.) Rosario Dawson continues to be compelling as Claire Temple- I don't know where they're planning on taking her character, but she continues to be intriguing to watch as she makes her way through the Marvel Netflix Universe.

We're almost to The Defenders. Iron Fist is up next... every single one of these shows has left me waiting and wanting more. Marvel and Netflix have managed to take these characters and turn them into compelling appointment television. That's an achievement in and of itself.

Overall: The Marvel Netflix excellence continues, this time with Luke Cage. I can't wait for Iron Fist and The Defenders! **** out of ****

Saturday, October 22, 2016

This Week In Vexillology #187: The Brown Flag Challenge Begins

So I realized that last week that I was running out of flags to talk about and thus realized that I was going to have to get creative to get this train rolling and happily, the Missus and her interior design skills provided me with an answer. You see, we had company come up last weekend for Little Dude's Birthday, so that meant we needed to get our spare bed from the Parentals House to set it all up in the basement. Which was easy enough, but it still looked a little sparse and well, open- like an unfinished basement. Obviously, the first thing I thought about was flags. I have a tote full of the things and while it wasn't a perfect solution, it'd work for a weekend. I asked the Missus what color scheme was she envisioning, she replied red, green and brown.

This is what resulted:
I have plenty of flags with red and green, but I came up short when it came to the color brown and after one hundred and eighty six flags, I realized that I couldn't really recall any where brown featured prominently. So, I did some digging on the interwebs, found a list and The Brown Flag Challenge was born...

I was surprised, because I had actually encountered some of these flags before. Iowa, technically has brown in it's flag. So does Dominica. But there are plenty of other flags that I hadn't touched yet- so that's the list we're going to work our way through- starting with the flag of the great, Golden State of California:
The origins of this flag can be traced to the very short-lived, totally unrecognized breakaway state of the California Republic, which lasted for about twenty-five days in 1846 and controlled the area north of San Francisco, mainly centered around Sonoma. It's flag looked like this:
(You can sort of see where they got the basic idea from, right?) Anyway, for obvious reason, this came to be called the Bear Flag and the revolt, short as it was, became known as the Bear Flag Revolt and we'll never really know what might have happened to the California Republic, because the Mexican-American War sort of took over events pretty fast and the Republic's Military was subsumed into the California Battalion commanded by Captain John C. Fremont (who is actually a really interesting guy. I read this book about him- which I think I still have somewhere. Maybe. It was really good and you should read it though) and by July 9th it was all over and California became part of the Untied States. 

Here's the crazy thing though. California became a state in 1850 and the current, official version of the Bear Flag was first adopted in 1911. I did some digging on the interwebs, because Wikipedia didn't have the answer and you know what? I'm not sure that California had an official state flag between 1850 and 1911. There was a little bit of a brouhaha during the course of the Civil War where pro-secessionist people down south flew the Bear Flag instead of the Stars and Stripes and it's all... a bit mysterious.

The bear itself is supposed to be modeled on one of the last California Grizzly Bears in captivity named Monarch who was captured in 1889 by a newspaper reporter at the behest of guess who? William Randolph Hearst. After it died in 1911, it was stuffed and preserved at the Academy of Sciences at Golden Gate Park and as far as I know, it's still there which is a very cool piece of trivia. The Bear Flag has some detractors, but the North American Vexillological Association ranked it as #13 in their survey of flags of North America, which seems about right to me. It's design is simple and evocative and to be honest, if you look at all the state flags- California would be one that I would want to add to my collection. (Hey, speaking of which: why don't I have any state flags? I should remedy that.)

Remember, until next time keep your flags flying- FREAK or otherwise!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Constitutional Amendments, Ranked

So, this Deadspin listicle floated by me and caught my eye last weekend and the more I thought about it, the more I took issue with some of their choices here. Then, it occurred to me. Why not put together my own list? Every good student of political science should have one, right? So, here, for your reading please.

Constitutional Amendments, Ranked (The Lit City Blues Edition)
1. First  (This is the whole ball of wax to me. Without out, America doesn't have a foundation)
2. Thirteenth (But, the First Amendment ain't worth shit if you can keep slaves. So that's a no.)
3. Fifteenth (tie) (These three get a tie because they opened up our democracy to those who had been excluded at the start of it all- women, people of color and the young.)
3. Nineteenth (tie)
3. Twenty-Sixth (tie)
6. Fourteenth (Once you've figured out the bedrock freedom and who can have it and that slaves are bad, you should probably define citizenship.)
7. Fourth (tie) (Unreasonable search and seizure = bad. Def a top 10 pick.)
7. Fifth.(tie) (Protection against self-incrimination. Also important.)
9. Ninth  (Probably my favorite amendment. Was tempted to rank it 2nd, but it's a solid mid-major that can make a Cinderella run deep if you're not careful.)
10. Seventh
11. Sixth
12. Eighth (Seven, Six and Eight could have been a nice group together, but I separated them out.)
13. Tenth
14. Second (Reflective of my ambiguity on the issue of guns, it sort of fell right in the middle.)
15. Twelfth (Picking the President is important.)
16. Twenty-Fifth (Ditto figuring out what happens if he dies.)
17. Twenty-Fourth (Poll Tax, bad.)
18. Twenty-Seventh
19. Sixteenth
20. Twenty-Third
21. Eleventh
22. Seventeenth (I'm surprised this one didn't end up higher, since I think there's a case to be made that you can be of too minds about it. In general, I think more democracy is good, but this also could be seen as one of the root causes in throwing the relationship between the states and the Federal Government so out of whack since it represents a big rollback in power for the states.)
23. Twenty-Second
24. Twentieth
25. Twenty-First
26. Eighteenth
27. Third (Seems somewhat antiquated, but you have to wonder if police like forcibly using your house for a stakeout would be covered here.)

This was actually a super-hard and really interesting thought exercise to have...  I diverge a little from the folks at Deadspin, which is fine. I can sort of understand why they made some of the choices they made, but as you can see above, I provide some brief annotations as to my rationale. Though I do think the 9th remains one of my favorite amendments.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Big 12 Stays At 10

Alas, one of my favorite sports- truly, the sport of kings- came to ended with a whimper instead of a bang this past Monday when the Big 12, in it's apparent wisdom ended months of mindless speculation by deciding not to add any new members- at least for now. There's been sort of a mixed reaction out there on the interwebs, but the overall feeling seems to be that a. this isn't going away- it's a decision deferred, not denied and b. we're probably in looking at the latter days of the House of 12, so to speak.

The biggest motivating factor seems to have been money. ESPN and Fox have the television rights for the conference currently and they were looking at the list of candidates and just not feeling. I'm not sure if they've closed a deal to chip in some more dinero for the conference not to expand, but the word on the street seems to be that they've dangled that possibility in front of the Big 12 and it seems to have worked- at least for now.

The second (and more interesting factor) to consider is the issue of politics. Here's the official rationale from The Commish himself this past July, saying that the conference would be looking:
"for members that will grow over time as we grow-- [schools] that bring stability, that have a high top end."
Then, pretty much as soon as the process started, Texas politics muddied the waters by pretty much insisting that whomever the Big 12 added one candidate just had to be Houston. Now, Houston is a pretty solid candidate all by themselves, so you can't strike them from consideration, but with their inclusion in a potential expansion pretty much a fait accompli right out of the damn gate, suddenly you go from looking for schools to improve your brand, have a high top end and stabilize your conference to Houston + 1 (or 3, depending on how crazy you wanna get.)

In other words, the non-Texas schools are suddenly looking at this thinking, 'well, fuck. We gotta play nice with The Longhorn State and dilute our main recruiting ground or jump off this pony altogether' and they seemed to have decided to jump off the pony instead. The fact that their television partners weren't crazy about the idea either- and in fact, were so not crazy they were willing to pay them not to add members was probably all the excuse everybody else needed to kick the can down the road a bit.

But here's the thing. If a week is a long time in politics, five years is an eternity in the world of conference re-alignment. Could be that the Big 12 finds a formula that works for them and expands or doesn't expand and it's all good. But the general consensus is that by the time the current Big 12 grant of rights is up in 2023, people will be heading for the door and the era of the four 16-team super conferences that has long been predicted will come to pass. So, where does everyone go? Let's break it down:

Currently, the Big 10 and SEC sit at 14 members. The ACC has 15 and the Pac-12 is sitting at a good old solid 12 and let's throw in the Mountain West for the sake of argument-- that's got 11 members right now. So, if I'm doing my math right that's ten slots for ten schools- though if the music stops and someone gets stuck with the Mountain West and their chair they may not be all that happy about it. I'm leaving politics out of these scenarios, though you can best believe they'll be in play all over the place if the Big 12 really does start to fly apart.

Scenario 1 (The Hawkeye Nation Plan):
Oklahoma/Oklahoma State go to the SEC
Texas and Kansas to the Big 10

I'm assuming under these conditions the Pac-12 which was ready to blow up the Big 12 in a huge-ass way, goes buckwild and makes a play for Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech and maybe snags Kansas State along the way. This leaves the ACC to grab West Virginia (a logical choice for them) and Iowa State as the odd man out, probably headed to the Mountain West (where they might actually do really well.)

Scenario II (My Plan)
If demographics is destiny, then despite a good academic record, Kansas has nothing that the Big 10 really wants. Texas does, but the other school that doesn't get mentioned all that much, but had some buzz during the last round of expansion was Georgia Tech. Both of these options would end the Big 10's contiguous geographic footprint but plant the flag of the conference directly into two of the biggest football recruiting grounds in the nation: Texas and the Deep South. If the Big 10 can do this, I think they will. Which means:

Texas to the Big 10.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to the SEC (we're assuming they're a package deal, which is probably the case.)
Kansas and West Virginia to the ACC (If the Big 10 snags Georgia Tech, they'd be fools not to take West Virginia and Kansas, the former a solid basketball and football program, the latter a home run in basketball and solid academics. But if Oklahoma is a package deal, are the Kansas schools?)

The problem for the remaining five schools in this scenario becomes the Pac-12: Tech, Baylor, TCU, K-State and Iowa State aren't exactly barn-burners when you have BYU, Air Force and potentially Colorado State to consider. While the service academies always get mentioned in scenarios like this, they never seem to get taken on by the Big Players and they've already got Colorado- so why do they need Colorado State? Honor code issues aside, BYU would be a solid add for them. So then, it's (probably) BYU + 3. Problem is, which 3? I'd say TCU and Tech are strong candidates- Baylor has a public relations problem which you'd hope would be behind them by 2020. Maybe you go buckwild for Texas and take all 3. Which leaves ISU and Kansas State out in the cold, probably headed to the Mountain West.

As per usual, all these predictions are totally and utterly dependent on the Big 12 flying apart in the first place and will probably wind up being totally wrong. But now, I've got to put aside my excitement and wait for the Beast to rear it's ugly head again... but no one is talking about the darkest horse of them all.


(Addendum: This and this are pretty decent takes on this. h/t to The Quiet Man for the first link which is absolutely 100% correct.)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Albums2010 #83: Remain In Light

Talking Heads has always been one of my favorite bands. Maybe not my all time favorite band ever, because I'm honestly not sure I have one, but they've always been somewhere in my person top ten. When I was kid, Dad's copy of Stop Making Sense would pop up in the CD player now and again at various family parties and once I got old enough to purchase CDs all by my lonesome, I snagged Sand In The Vaseline and loved every track on it.

[Pop culture tangent: If you have no idea who Talking Heads are, well- there's that one scene in Revenge of the Nerds, that other scene in Clerks II and of course, if you're a fan of rock n'roll/concert movies, there's Stop Making Sense.]

But the one thing I haven't actually done is dig into their discography all that much. Sand In The Vaseline and Stop Making Sense provided me with a plethora of Talking Heads and it kept me satisfied, up until now. I'm not sure what got my started on my latest 'Heads binge, but a quick google search for the best Talking Heads albums pointed me in the direction of Remain In Light, so I hopped onto my Spotify, tracked it down and gave it a whirl.

And you guys...  seriously. You guys. This is a really good album. Like a really fucking good album. To me, this ranks right up there with U2's Joshua Tree, Bruce Springsteen's Darkness On The Edge of Town and Rolling Stones' Exile On Main Street, Fleetwood Mac's Rumors....  I loved every minute of this beast and if you like great music, it's worth a listen- if you like Talking Heads and you're not a lazy fan like I am, you've probably already listened it many times over, but if you haven't gotten around to this one, get to it!

So, Remain In Light:

I did some digging on Wikipedia and the big idea behind this album was that the band wanted to dispel the idea that Talking Heads was all about David Byrne who was just sort of leading a back up band. If that was what they were aiming for, I think they hit their target, because the staggering amount of fusion and blending of a whole variety of musical genres makes for a truly syncretic experience. There's elements of African music, other world music, post-punk, new wave, funk, experimental rock- it's amazing.

The album opens with 'Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)' which has a hook that worms it's way into your brain and is impossible not to dance too. 'Crosseyed and Painless' has long been a favorite 'Heads track of mine- and the break down/rap at the end of the track seems especially appropriate, given the long train wreck of an electoral disaster we're all facing. ("Facts are simple and facts are straight/facts are lazy and facts are late/facts all come with points of view/facts don't do what I want them to/facts just twist the truth around") 'The Great Curve' brings an Afro-beat sensibility to the album with a great lyric, "the world moves on a woman's hips" that sticks in the brain. 'Once In A Lifetime' is a Talking Heads classic but that gets followed up with 'Houses In Motion' (another one of my favorites from this album) and then 'Seen and Not Seen' and 'Listening Wind' all of which play around with Middle Eastern sounds.

My digging on Wikipedia revealed something wild about the final track on the album, 'The Overload.' The verbatim quote:
The final track on the album, 'The Overload' was Talking Heads' attempt to emulate the sound of British post-punk band Joy Division. The song was made despite no band member having heard the music of Joy Division; rather, it was based on an idea of what the British quartet might sound like based on descriptions in the music press.
How wild is that? And more importantly- how crazy is it that they got relatively close to the overall sound of Joy Division? Mind. Blown.

Overall: Makes my list of Top 10 Albums ever without breaking a sweat. Can't wait to jam out to it again. **** out of ****.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

This Week In Vexillology #186

Well now I've got to sit down and figure something out, because I thought this was the last stop on the list of flags I've already covered, but the internet says that there are 196 countries in the world and I seem to have come up ten short or so. So what comes next, I don't know, but This Week In Vexillology we're wrapping up Southeast Asia with the flag of the Philippines:
First adopted on June 12th, 1898, the current version of the flag was reaffirmed on February 12th, 1998- so this flag has been around for awhile. Coolest design feature of this flag: if the Philippines are in a state of war, it's displayed with the red side on top. 

The white equilateral triangle stands for liberty, equality and fraternity. The blue stripe for peace, truth and justice. The red stripe stands for patriotism and valor (which might explain why the red side up is used for when the country is in a state of war, because, obviously- defending the homeland and all that jazz.) 

It's when we get to the stars and the sun that we get into some really hefty detail on the symbolism. The eight-rayed golden sun in the center of the white portion of the flag stands for unity, freedom, people's democracy and sovereignty. Each ray represents a province that had significant involvement in the 1896 Philippine Revolution against Spain- these provinces are: Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Pampanga, Tarlac, Laguna, Batangas and Nueva Ecija. The five pointed stars in each corner of the triangle stand for the three major islands where the Revolution started- Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

There's some difference between the current official explanation and the symbolism found in the 1898 Proclamation of Philippine Independence. The white triangle (in this explanation) stands for the Katipunan, a secret society that opposed the Spanish. The red, white and blue are supposedly an homage/thank you to the United States for their help against the Spanish. One of the three stars represents just the island of Panay instead of the entire chain of the Visayan Islands. Just to add to the tally, the sun is supposed to represent the paths the country has made along the path of Progress and Civilization and Bataan takes the place of Tarlac as one of the sun's rays.

And that's the flag of the Philippines! Remember, until next time keep your flags flying- FREAK or otherwise!