Like dying, choosing a state flag is something most of us will only go through once. So it's not surprising that there also seem to be common stages of processing this experience, such as:
Excitement: as we hear the news that the state is finally replacing an old flag that managed both to be indistinguishable from a dozen other states' flags and uniquely offensive.
Anticipation: as we scan hundreds of initial entries, mentally marking favorites.
Amusement: Laser loons? Hot dish? Someone's dog? I love this process!
Regret: as we realize there was no "Flaggy McFlagFace" entry — we knew we should have entered!
Disappointment: as we look more closely at the finalists.
Rage: THERE'S NO LOON?!
Disdain: as we read or hear all others' critiques or preferences, which are of course quite ridiculous compared to our own.
Pity: being part of that commission that picks the finalists and winner sounds like the kind of committee assignment reserved solely for the inhabitants of the fifth circle of hell.
Acceptance: as we remember that any of the flawed finalists are better than what we have now — except maybe that one with the weird blocky green things. Is that a Transformer holding up the head of its enemy Transformer?
Acceptance II: no, even that one would be better.
Astute readers will notice that there are more stages listed here than in Kubler-Ross' famous list. But as the old saying goes: Dying is easy; choosing state flags is hard.
Scott Hvizdos, Richfield
So let me get this straight. We can't have a loon on our state flag because it's not found in all parts of the state. (Not true, really, because as migratory birds, loons can be found throughout the state at least twice a year.) But we must have the North Star, which is not only not unique to Minnesota but is visible throughout the entire northern hemisphere!
And what's with that French writing on the state seal? Is that our attempt to appear to be esoteric? Who are we trying to kid? Everyone knows that Minnesotans are not esoteric. Are we also supposed to say that looking up with our finger on our nose? Why don't we just write it in Minnesotan so that at least everyone in the state knows what it says — "Dat Nort Star Place"!
I think we should throw that whole commission out on their ears and start over.
J. Barry Eliason, St. Anthony
I found several recent responses about the new state flag rather interesting. They say that they have never seen a loon, so it shouldn't be on the new state flag, but the North Star would be a better representation. I bet that they have never seen the North Star either, could not point it out or even tell you its real name! I see and hear loons every year here in the Twin Cities as they migrate to and from their summer nesting areas further north. They are a water-based bird, so you have to look for them on our more than 10,000 lakes and numerous rivers. Look and you shall find! And I vote for the loon flag!
Clarence J. Deschene, Champlin
Build out solutions for the poor
This letter responds to the article published on Nov. 26, "Window coverings can boost a home's energy efficiency," and considers its energy justice implications. The writer expertly substantiates the promising capability of window coverings to decrease energy costs.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition defines severely cost-burdened as when more than half of a household's income is spent on housing costs and utilities, such as energy. This definition applies to 66% of extremely low-income Minnesota households.
The window covering solution should be implemented with cost-burdened Minnesotans in mind. It may be difficult for these individuals to allocate a large sum for efficient shades at one time, even though they present long-term savings.
One program to address energy efficiency issues already exists: the weatherization assistance program. The window covering solution could fall under this umbrella, but the program has very limited funding and capacity, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
Thus, the best way to implement the window covering solution is through new construction. In the 2023-2024 Minnesota New Construction Minimum Standards, it is already required that "all windows and windows within doors must be furnished with window coverings for privacy and control of heat/solar shading." It also should be recommended that, specifically for low-income housing, cellular shades be incorporated as opposed to blinds due to their superior heat-efficiency abilities.
Implementing energy-efficiency-enhancing window coverings will decrease energy bills as well as related emissions: an empowering win-win for consumers and the planet.
Laura Sunnarborg, Minnetrista
The judge was right
Dear Department of Natural Resources Deputy Commissioner Barb Naramore: You stated that an "unnamed" senior leader at the agency will review recommendations comments from the "parties" before making the final decision on the PolyMet permit ("Court: Reject PolyMet permit," Nov. 30). First, we, the citizens of Minnesota, would like the name of this senior leader. Second, I believe one of those parties consists of all the citizens of this state. The most important resource we have here is our clean, fresh water, and we, the citizens of Minnesota, do not want the PolyMet permit approved. Third, look at the track record of this industry; it is abominable and catastrophic. Fourth, a foreign-owned company wants our resources only to sell them to other foreign countries. What do the citizens of Minnesota get? Polluted rivers and lakes and a handful of minimum-wage jobs. The decision is to agree with Judge James E. LaFave — permit denied.
Heather Snook, Minneapolis
A well-done emergency landing
Wednesday's article "Plane crashes on Brooklyn Park highway" grabs the reader with its headline but misinforms the public.
The plane did not "crash." In fact, the pilot performed an emergency landing and was praised by the fire chief for handling the situation well. Emergency landings are an important skill that begins in training when the instructor casually reaches across the cockpit, turns off the engine and says to the student, "Your airplane." The Federal Aviation Administration affirms the need for this skill when it defines the minimum safe altitude for flight as that which allows a safe emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the ground.
Why are the words important? Crashing implies that flying is a dangerous activity. Between 2012 and 2021, the general aviation accident rate fell from 7.0 to 5.3 accidents per 100,000 flight hours, and the fatality rate correspondingly fell by 23%. Flying small aircraft has always been safer than, say, riding a motorcycle, and it gets safer every year.
The Brooklyn Park pilot is to be commended for using his training to get on the ground in one piece.
Eric Anderson, Minneapolis