Monday, February 28, 2011

March Madness: East Regional, Round 1

Welcome to this exciting opening day of the U.S. States and Territories Flag Tournament!!!
The Bracket

The Rules: Anyone can play.  For each of the pairs of flags pitted against each other, simply indicate your favorite.  Explication, derision, and/or analysis will not affect the scoring, but is nevertheless encouraged.  Each winner will of course advance to the second round.

In the first round only, you may select one of your six preferred flags as especially favored; for that flag only, your vote counts double.

East Regional Voting Deadline: 11:59 p.m., Friday, March 4.

Vermont vs. New Hampshire


New Hampshire

Delaware vs. West Virginia


West Virginia

Massachusetts vs. New York


New York

District of Columbia vs. New Jersey

District of Columbia

New Jersey

Virginia vs. Maine



Connecticut vs. Pennsylvania



Make your votes in the comments, of course.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Flag Day: Mexico!

It's Flag Day in Mexico!

I bet "Flag Day" sounds awesome in Spanish.  Can anyone help me out?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

March Madness: Get Your Bracket Ready!

What U.S. State or Territorial Flag will emerge triumphant?  Pick your favorites now and be ready to cast your votes throughout March as 56 flags go head to head on Vexillophilia and The Life and Times of Michael5000.

First Round Schedule

February 28: East Regional, Round 1
March 1: South Regional, Round 1
March 3: North Regional, Round 1
March 4: West Regional, Round 1

Second Round Schedule

March 7: East Regional, Round 2
March 8: South Regional, Round 2
March 10: North Regional, Round 2
March 11: West Regional, Round 2

Note for non-UnitedStatesian readers: "March Madness" is a parody of the elaborate yearly American college basketball tournament.  But the flag tournament is for real.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Flag Friday XXIV

Flag Friday is a periodic discussion of the world's national flags; the project is explained and indexed here.

These discussions are about graphic design, and perhaps about nationalism and national symbolism in general. They should not be taken as critical of the countries, ideals, cultures, or people that the flags represent.


Parsons: It has "bad colours" but salvages a "B", 73/100.

Michael5000: How come I've never noticed the Mauritanian flag before?  It's pretty slick.  Plus, I like the colours.

Grade: A-


Parsons: "Hey, lots of countries have a tricolour," writes Parsons, speculating on the thought process behind this design.  "Why don't we have a quadricolor?  Big mistake."  With "bad colours" that "make [him] nauseous, it only escapes with a "C-", 50/100.

Michael5000: Going from the three stripes to the four stripes is such an obvious move that it would be surprising that more countries hadn't tried it -- or would be, if it just didn't look so wrong in execution.  Whether this is simply a product of everybody being accustomed to tricolors, or if there is something culturally or even biologically less satisfying about a series of four stripes, I could not speculate.  Clearly, picking the colors of IKEA children's toys don't especially help.  Slight mitigating factor: distinctiveness and recognizeability.

Grade: C-


Parsons: With "graven images" and being "too busy," it barely tops Mauritius with a "C-", 70/100.

Michael5000: See, I almost have to recuse myself from looking at the banner of a next-door neighbor of my own country.  Clearly, the eagle-serpant-cactus-island retelling of the national origin myth is way too detailed to be properly flaggy, failing with gusto the Betsy Ross test and foiling all but the very most talented of child crayon artists.  And yet I am fond.  You have to admit that, as national seals go, it's a pretty boss national seal.

Grade: B


Parsons: Without comment, it gets a "B-", 66/100.

Michael5000: Pretty much the only thing I like here is that the stars are set so as to create a squarish negative shape in the center.  But beyond that, we have four white stars.  In a field of sky blue.  Boring enough on the page or screen, this thing must be essentially camoflaged when flown up on a flagpole.  On the up side, it won't really matter when the flag gets old and the color is all washed out; washed-out color is built into the design.

Grade: C-


Parsons: With a trio of complaints -- a "bad shape," "graven images," and being "too busy," it barely tops Mexico with a "C," 45/100.

Michael5000: It is a bit leggy, being one of those 1:2 ratio flags despite the relative lack of British influence.  Moldova has deep cultural ties with neighboring Romania, and its flag is basically the Romanian tricolor with a seal on it.  The seal is undeniably busy, an eagle clutching something with each leg, and with a crest on its chest.  (It is, incidentally, an interesting convention of heraldry that makes it seem perfectly normal to represent birds of prey with crests on their chests.  Birds almost never bear heraldic crests on their chests in real life.  But I digress.)   But two things mitigate the busy-ness.  For one thing, the seal is graphically simple, and the entire flag is rendered in five colors plus black.  It's not especially kind on the local Betsy Ross, but if she's got her skillz she'll do fine.  The other thing is, the crest is of a cow with a moon, sun, and little flower.  I find this slightly enchanting.

Also: distinctive.  Romania and Chad are the only other two countries to fly an all-primaries tricolor, and neither of them have a cow.  Or any seal at all, for that matter.

Grade (for the current flag): B

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Flag Day: Canada!

It's National Flag of Canada Day!

It is appropriate to hug your favorite Canadian, but make sure to ask first to ensure that you aren't violating any personal boundaries.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Flag Friday XXIII

Flag Friday is a periodic discussion of the world's national flags; the project is explained and indexed here.

These discussions are about graphic design, and perhaps about nationalism and national symbolism in general. They should not be taken as critical of the countries, ideals, cultures, or people that the flags represent.


Parsons: It's "too busy," so he gives it a "C-", 52/100.

Michael5000: It's true that all of the red and white stripy action has a certain clown-pants aspect to it, but the yellow-on-blue field is pretty sharp.  How many points does that star have?  Fourteen?  That's got to be worth something!

Grade: B


Parsons: "That colour scheme is close to being hideous," he complains, but it is "original."  Despite the presence of red and green, he gives it a generous "B-", 70/100.

Michael5000: Well, we've often noticed before that Josh Parsons hates Christmas.  But too, he might have been looking at this common rendition of the Maldives banner:

I dunno why this flag is so often represented as having a tennis-ball green central rectangle.  It's not in the flag's specs, nor (as seen in the photographic evidence, above) does it seem to be used in real life.  Instead, you've got a mature red, a deep forest green, and a white -- not a yellow -- crescent.  This is just a theory, but I'm wondering if somebody screwed up an image of the Maldives flag 15 years ago when the internets were young, and the bozo version of the flag has just propagated itself online ever sense.  Whatever happened, it's a shame, because the real flag is actually kind of slick.

Grade (for the current flag): A


Parsons: It's a "bad tricolour," but manages a "B", 70/100.

Michael5000: A good tricolor.  Not wildly distinctive among other African flags, but we've talked about Pan-Africanism before and need not rehearse it again.

The real question, when you talk about the flag of Mali, is this: should they, or should they not, have stuck with the 1959-1961 version?

Probably not, but it sure would have won points for distinctiveness.

Grade: B+


Parsons: It's "too busy," and gets a "B-", 65/100.

Michael5000: At the usual scale of observation, this is a pretty good flag.  Its blunt ratio makes it distinctive, and the main visual element is just a nice little plus-sign in the upper left corner.  But when you look closer at the plus-sign....

Yep, too busy.

I'm not sure exactly what's up with this, but Malta also seems to have some competing flags in common use as well:

I kind of like these; they are classical, simple, and distinctive.  But clearly the good people of Malta need to pick a flag and run with it.

Grade (for the official flag): B-

Marshall Islands

Parsons: "Looks like an airline logo," he muses.  This corporate look gets it a "D+", 45/100.

Michael5000: Well, yes.  It looks very much like an airline logo.  It's distinctive, but...

Grade (for the current flag): C-

Sunday, February 6, 2011

He's Right! My State Flag DOES Stink!

My new favorite flag blog, Your State Flag Stinks, is a playful critique of the (generally awful) flags of the U.S. states and a playful experiment in amateur flag design.  Lamentably, it went inactive just before I discovered it.  I encourage Vexillophiliacs to join me in pestering the author to resume his project.

Oklahoma, before

Oklahoma, after

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Flag Day: Macedonia!

It's Flag Day in Macedonia!

Except, they have Flag Day every two weeks in Macedonia, on the first and fifteenth of every month.  That makes it a little less special, if you ask me.